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Sleep Apnea Can Make You Money and Cut Health Costs
Obstructive sleep apnea or OSA is a commonly seen form of sleep disorder in which the airway collapses during sleep, most often as a result of too much weight pressing down on the airway, effectively preventing the person from being able to reach the REM phase of sleep. during which the body rejuvenates and replenishes itself resulting in the person waking up from bed the next day feeling as tired as the night before. This is a major area of concern throughout the trucking industry regarding the safety of the truckers as well as the general traveling public, considering that a drowsy or fatigued driver is unable to safely operate their vehicle with the level of awareness necessary to do so. . Going directly along with this is an increased frequency in lawsuits being brought to trucking companies that had a driver involved in an accident in which the driver suffers from undiagnosed sleep apnea or the driver is not properly monitored to ensure effective treatment is administered to control his. sleep apnea The results of these cases ranged from relatively small fines and penalties to multi-million dollar settlements as seen in the case tried in late 2012 in which a court determined that a company’s negligence in requiring drivers to be tested and treated for sleep apnea resulted. in an accident involving a driver who fell asleep behind the wheel with cruise control engaged, slamming into the back of stopped traffic on a freeway, killing the father of three and a wife. If this company had taken a more proactive approach in addressing the need for sleep disorder testing and implemented a well-managed program, the likelihood of an accident as tragic as this occurring could have been significantly reduced saving that father’s life and, less importantly, a large amount of money for the company.
As mentioned in the previous paragraph, OSA is primarily the result of the airway being forced closed by too much weight pressing on it during sleep. With this in mind, it is easy to understand why the rate of people who suffer from OSA increases almost linearly as weight increases, with the severely obese (BMI > 50) suffering from some level of sleep apnea approximately 95% of the time. The correlation between OSA and obesity is undeniable, much like the frequency in which the obese also suffers from any number or combination of chronic diseases such as hypertension, Type II diabetes, and many heart diseases. What this amounts to in the eyes of Human Resources and Security personnel is steadily increasing overall health care costs. The longer someone continues with undiagnosed or untreated sleep apnea, the greater the risk of developing other diseases, which can result in more expenses taken by the company in health expenses then leading to health care providers raising rates to cover. the costs Early diagnosis and effective treatment of OSA can, in some cases, greatly reduce the chance or even prevent the occurrence of other conditions such as high blood pressure or Type II diabetes and in the event of late diagnosis; appropriate treatment can help to stabilize other diseases that the person may already be suffering from, with the aim of avoiding additional health costs.
Now that you see how a well-executed sleep disorder management program can save a company significant amounts of money in avoided litigation and help lower overall health care costs, let’s explore how a sleep program can actually make your company money and let you see. return on your investment. The old saying, “A healthy worker is a happy worker and a happy worker is a productive worker” could not hold truer than it does when it comes to successfully managing sleep disorders. Getting enough sleep at night is the cornerstone of being able to perform daily tasks and job requirements to the level expected by your employer. Studies conducted to understand the correlation between sleep and neurological abilities have proven that a person who has not slept for a period of 24 hours has the same reactions and neurological abilities as that of an individual with a blood alcohol level of .08% or the legal limit for still operate a vehicle. As mentioned earlier, untreated OSA prevents an individual from reaching the REM phase of sleep or the stage of deep sleep in which the body effectively shuts down to rejuvenate. So an individual suffering from untreated OSA, although not as severe as being awake for a 24 hour period, will still suffer in their cognitive abilities due to lack of sleep and as this continues night after night, the problem begins to compound resulting in less. efficient and productive worker. In the case of truck drivers with untreated OSA, this means that the person behind the wheel of an 80,000-pound vehicle will attempt to operate that truck with diminished cognitive abilities and reaction speed. While this won’t always result in severe crashes as previously referenced, it does make one think of all the other areas it could impact. How many turns did that driver miss and what does that equate to fuel cost and time lost OR What was missed or overlooked when they did their pre trip inspection of the truck resulting in fines and penalties to the companies CSA score. It all boils down to the fact that a well-rested worker will be more attentive to details, more able to make real-time split decisions behind the wheel that could save their life and the lives of others around them, and lead to overall. an increase in their productivity level.
Now, having shown all the benefits that having a proper sleep management program in place can bring to a company, it is all for nothing if the drivers are not using the machines properly and getting the right treatment. Therefore, having a compliance monitoring service for all drivers who are on CPAP treatment is crucial to the overall effectiveness of the program. Without monitoring, the likelihood of drivers sitting the CPAP on the shelf and not using it increases greatly, in which case all the negative side effects that were discussed earlier, which are associated with untreated OSA, will continue to be felt. Along with this, doctors who perform the DOT physicals on drivers for CDL recertification are now required to see compliance data for drivers who are suspected of using CPAP and if they do not meet the minimum requirements, the examiners will not issue full certificates and in some cases requires a driver to show up to 3 weeks of compliance before allowing that driver to enter their truck. That unnecessary time spent out of the truck costs the company lost profits by not having enough drivers to meet already scheduled deliveries and hinders the company’s ability to contract new deliveries because they will be uncertain as to how many drivers will be available at a given time.
The topic of sleep apnea testing has become a hot topic within the transportation industry and is of concern to management and drivers alike as to how it will effect their daily operations and what the overall cost of a treatment program will be. However, what will become even more worrying is not having a solution to the issue when it inevitably arises. This will only cost more in the long run, where having a proactive approach to sleep apnea testing can actually bring increased profit margins and lower healthcare costs for a company.
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