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Study Finds Higher Crash Rate for Truck Drivers Who Fail to Adhere to Sleep Apnea Treatment

Posted on in Truck Accidents

Wisconsin truck accident lawyer, Wisconsin personal injury attorneyObstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a medical condition that temporarily stops a sufferer’s breathing while they sleep. This can disrupt sleepiness and often leads to excessive daytime sleepiness. This symptom, which can be caused by a number of other factors or conditions, is thought to be responsible for as many as 20 percent of all large truck accidents and as many as 9,000 deaths and 22,000 severe injuries each and every year. What is most concerning is that nearly all of those accidents (if not all) could have been prevented with proper diagnosis and treatment.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Sleep Apnea

According to estimates from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, sleep apnea affects as many 26 percent of Americans. Unfortunately, many do not actually know they have the condition since it rarely wakes the sufferer up enough that they register the disruption. Instead, they must be able to register their daytime sleepiness and/or other symptoms as a side effect of their condition and speak to their doctor. From there, they undergo testing that will help their doctor diagnose and administer treatment.

Sleep apnea sufferers generally require the use of a specially calibrated machine. Worn at night, it helps to stop sleep disruptions and eliminate the resulting symptoms. But the machine is loud and difficult to sleep with, so some do not adhere to their treatment. For truck drivers, this failure to adhere could increase the risk of accidents by as much as five times.

Failure to Adhere to Treatment and Truck Accident Risks

A large-scale study conducted by researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, Morris, Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) compared sleep apnea treatment compliance and accident rates of 1,613 truck drivers with OSA to a control group of 2,016 drivers who were unlikely to have sleep apnea. A total of 682 fully complied and used the company-provided pressurized air machines to help them sleep, 571 partially adhered, and 360 never adhered.

Results, which also included an examination of every preventable accident logged by the drivers, found no increased accident risk among the drivers that had complied with their OSA treatment. In contrast, those that failed to adhere to treatment were involved in five times as many preventable accidents as the control group. This not only suggests that the trucking industry should regularly screen their drivers for sleep apnea, but that they need to find a way to ensure compliance with treatment.

Victim of a Trucking Accident? Seek Aggressive Legal Representation

Trucking accidents often have severe or fatal consequences for the victims and the people who love them. A strong and compassionate advocate is needed to ensure they receive the fair settlement they deserve for their losses. These can include (but are not limited to) loss of life, loss of livelihood, compensation for long-term medical needs, pain, and suffering, and/or final expenses.

At Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP, we understand just how much a truck accident can alter your life. Our skilled and compassionate attorneys can build a strong case against all negligent parties and will fight hard to help you get justice and the fair compensation you and your family deserve. Schedule your consultation with a Milwaukee, Wisconsin truck accident law firm with more than 40 years of experience. Call our offices at 414-271-1440 today.

Sources:

https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/press-releases/truck-drivers-sleep-disorders-crashes/

http://wane.com/2016/05/24/driver-fatigue-causes-one-semi-to-crash-into-another/

http://www.aasmnet.org/articles.aspx?id=5043

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