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Accid Anal Prev. 2008 Jan;40(1):104-15. doi: 10.1016/j.aap.2007.04.011. Epub 2007 May 24.

Estimated cost of crashes in commercial drivers supports screening and treatment of obstructive sleep apnea.

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Center for Sleep and Respiratory Neurobiology, Division of Sleep Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA 19104, United States.


Sleep apnea among commercial drivers may increase the risk of fall-asleep crashes, which incur large expenses. Drivers of passenger cars whose apnea is treated experience lower crash risk. Among community-based holders of commercial driver's licenses, we considered three methods for identifying sleep apnea syndrome: (1) in-lab polysomnography; (2) selective in-lab polysomnography for high-risk drivers, where high risk is first identified by body mass index, age and gender, followed by oximetry in a subset of drivers; (3) not screening. The costs for each of these three programs equaled the sum of the costs of testing, treatment of identified cases, and crashes. Assuming that treatment prevents apnea-related crashes, polysomnography is not cost-effective, because it was more expensive than the cost of crashes when no screening is done. Screening with BMI, age and gender, however, with confirmatory in-lab polysomnography only on high-risk drivers was cost-effective, as long as a high proportion (73.8%) of screened drivers accepts treatment. These findings indicate that strategies that reduce reliance on in-laboratory polysomnography may be more cost-effective than not screening, and that treatment acceptance may need to be a condition of employment for affected drivers.

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