BRONX, NY – A little more than a year after the Bronx train derailment that killed four people and injured more than 60, all engineers at NY-based transit company Metro North will be getting tested for sleep apnea in 2015. The engineer at the helm of the Dec 2013 fatal crash had “severe sleep apnea,” and it has been confirmed that company officials are taking action to avoid a similar disaster.
According to an article by Theresa Juva-Brown, Metro-North will pay $200,000 to Persante Health Care Inc, a New Jersey-based company that specializes in sleep disorders. “All 410 Metro-North engineers and some 20 engineers in training will have to answer a survey and undergo a physical at Metro-North’s medical facility,” writes Juva-Brown. “Based on those test results, engineers will be referred to Persante for additional screening, which includes at-home sleep tests. The devices are mailed back to specialists and engineers undergo more testing if necessary.”
The program may eventually be expanded to Long Island Railroad and New York City Transit, officials said, and eyes throughout the country will likely be focused on New York. Bob Rutan (pictured), founder and CEO of Naturs Design, a Mich-based company that makes RemZzzs CPAP liners, believes such mandates (if expanded across the country) would create apprehension among employers, but would ultimately be worth it.
“A mandate to test drivers for sleep apnea would mean increased expense and ongoing monitoring of the employees’ compliance to therapy,” says Rutan, who plans to exhibit at Medtrade Spring (Booth #1756), scheduled for March 30-April 1 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas. “However in the long run, it will save lives and potentially thousands of dollars in averted lawsuits. Initially there may be resistance to change and follow through, but this will be key to public safety.”
Jim Hollingshead, president, ResMed Americas (Booth #527 at Medtrade Spring 2015), told Medtrade Monday last year: “This accident was a tragic reminder of the importance of knowing the signs and symptoms of sleep apnea, and of seeking treatment. Although the awareness of the dangers of untreated sleep apnea has grown over the past several years, it is still significantly underdiagnosed.”
Forty-five percent of Americans say that poor or insufficient sleep affected their daily activities at least once in the past seven days, according to the National Sleep Foundation’s inaugural Sleep Health Index. The Sleep Health Index is a new annual general population poll that tracks Americans’ sleep behaviors and trends. The Index uncovers valuable insights into Americans’ sleep beliefs, habits, knowledge and disorders and demonstrates areas for sleep health improvement.