DOT Physical Turns Ugly

Topic 25151 | Page 1

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Bruce K.'s Comment
member avatar

I've been off work for almost two weeks on medical leave, which has been ok since it gave me time to catch up on things at home and irritate everybody on TT with my posts. The reason I went on leave was to get my eyes checked out and I got glasses, which I really needed. So far so good. However, because I now wear corrective lenses, the company scheduled me in for a DOT physical because my Fed Med card needed to have my eyeglass restriction. The physical was yesterday, and it went pretty well except for one thing. The Doctor said I had some risk factors for sleep apnea. He would only give me a 90 day certificate, during which I need to go in for a sleep study test.

This really surprised me because I sleep like a rock. I am blessed with the ability to drive for long periods of time and stay alert. Once in a while, I'll feel myself getting fatigued so I'll either stop and walk it off or just settle in for my 10hr. break. But I know that when I sleep, I sleep well.

My concern is this: I've been told that when my company pays for a sleep study test, the driver ALWAYS comes out of it with a requirement to use a CPAP machine. I've read a lot of posts on TT about CPAP machines and their usage. It is not a prospect that I would look forward to. So, my question is not about the machine itself, but rather the factors involved in the sleep study itself. Is it better to get an independent study done, separate from the company's provider? Any guidance I can get would be greatly appreciated because I'd rather avoid the machine and I have some time to work on reducing my risk factors.

so

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

Sleep Apnea:

A physical disorder in which you have pauses in your breathing, or take shallow breaths, during sleep. These pauses can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. Normal breathing will usually resume, sometimes with a loud choking sound or snort.

In obstructive sleep apnea, your airways become blocked or collapse during sleep, causing the pauses and shallow breathing.

It is a chronic condition that will require ongoing management. It affects about 18 million people in the U.S.

CPAP:

Constant Positive Airway Pressure

CPAP is a breathing assist device which is worn over the mouth or nose. It provides nighttime relief for individuals who suffer from Sleep Apnea.

Bobcat_Bob's Comment
member avatar

Your company may not accept a outside study, as most major companies want everything done with their providers.

Bruce K.'s Comment
member avatar

Your company may not accept a outside study, as most major companies want everything done with their providers.

Bobcat, that's one of the things I was afraid of. Too early to tell, but I will find out more about company policy today. Thanks for the heads up.

Bobcat_Bob's Comment
member avatar

Strange how these things work, in June 2017 in was with West Side transport their doctor did the same things as yours with the 3 month card. When I went for my physical with OD 2 months later their doctor never said anything about it nor tested the signs like before. So I was able get 1 year card due to having a high heart rate.

Errol V.'s Comment
member avatar

Bruce, the "requirements" for a sleep study do not include your own judgement on sleeping ("like a rock"). Your DOT doctor considers height, weight, even your neck size. Here is the TT Wiki article on Sleep Apnea For Truck Drivers - The Complete Guide.

I also felt I was a "rock-like" sleeper. Still do. But I had a sleep test just over a year ago and I got my CPAP machine . You know, in some ways I like what it has done for me. One thing is that you are required to have that machine with you on the road. So ... your company might install an APU in your truck just for the CPAP. And you get all the benefits that having an APU bring.

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

Sleep Apnea:

A physical disorder in which you have pauses in your breathing, or take shallow breaths, during sleep. These pauses can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. Normal breathing will usually resume, sometimes with a loud choking sound or snort.

In obstructive sleep apnea, your airways become blocked or collapse during sleep, causing the pauses and shallow breathing.

It is a chronic condition that will require ongoing management. It affects about 18 million people in the U.S.

BMI:

Body mass index (BMI)

BMI is a formula that uses weight and height to estimate body fat. For most people, BMI provides a reasonable estimate of body fat. The BMI's biggest weakness is that it doesn't consider individual factors such as bone or muscle mass. BMI may:

  • Underestimate body fat for older adults or other people with low muscle mass
  • Overestimate body fat for people who are very muscular and physically fit

It's quite common, especially for men, to fall into the "overweight" category if you happen to be stronger than average. If you're pretty strong but in good shape then pay no attention.

CPAP:

Constant Positive Airway Pressure

CPAP is a breathing assist device which is worn over the mouth or nose. It provides nighttime relief for individuals who suffer from Sleep Apnea.

APU:

Auxiliary Power Unit

On tractor trailers, and APU is a small diesel engine that powers a heat and air conditioning unit while charging the truck's main batteries at the same time. This allows the driver to remain comfortable in the cab and have access to electric power without running the main truck engine.

Having an APU helps save money in fuel costs and saves wear and tear on the main engine, though they tend to be expensive to install and maintain. Therefore only a very small percentage of the trucks on the road today come equipped with an APU.

Grumpy Old Man's Comment
member avatar

I just got one. Not a big deal so far

Bruce K.'s Comment
member avatar

Thanks guys. I'm already feeling better about it. The APU thing would be great.

I guess I'm just anxious to get back on the road soon without all these distractions. I signed up to drive, not to be a lab rat. Lol.

APU:

Auxiliary Power Unit

On tractor trailers, and APU is a small diesel engine that powers a heat and air conditioning unit while charging the truck's main batteries at the same time. This allows the driver to remain comfortable in the cab and have access to electric power without running the main truck engine.

Having an APU helps save money in fuel costs and saves wear and tear on the main engine, though they tend to be expensive to install and maintain. Therefore only a very small percentage of the trucks on the road today come equipped with an APU.

Rick S.'s Comment
member avatar

The debate has been raging for years on the OSA "scam". The "risk factors" (BMI, neck size, etc.) are not always accurate (voodoo science), as people with none of those (supposed) risk factors have been diagnosed with OSA.

The thing for actual sufferers of it, is the "sleep like a rock" thing is subjective. For most OSA sufferers, fatigue can be the only symptom - as most are not aware of their breathing stopping, or coming out of REM sleep overnight.

I have a good friend who did NOT have any of the risk factors. Went into the hospital for pneumonia, and while they were monitoring him overnight, his OSA was so bad that his HEART WAS STOPPING numerous times during the night. He now has a PACEMAKER.

While the jury is still out on how many folks are found to have OSA at "company sponsored sleep centers", who actually DO NOT HAVE IT - many folks on the forum over the years, who ended up on CPAP machines, report getting more restful sleep and having less "waking fatigue" during the awake hours.

Years ago, FMCSA was going to mandate sleep studies (FMCSA Withdraws Rule For Sleep Apnea Screening ), and has tried to pass a rule for this for nearly a decade - but the "voodoo science" of using BMI as the guideline, always gets them to withdraw it. Many of the doctors on the committee to come up with this rule, have been found to have a "vested interest" in seeing it passed ($$$).

So there is no "mandatory DOT rule" regarding sleep studies. Many companies adopted the BMI rule (neck measurements, etc.) themselves in ANTICIPATION OF DOT making it a rule - and then found it was kind of "profitable" to test drivers and sell them CPAP Machines (with kindly weekly withdrawals from your paycheck) using a local clinic and buying in bulk.

The link between companies and sleep centers/etc. hasn't been "positively established" (by lawsuit or other means), but many drivers through the years suspect it to be so.

BOTTOM LINE - if the company tells you to get one, YOU MUST GET ONE - from a doc they approve (usually THEIRS). If found to HAVE IT - you will have to get an "approved machine", and demonstrate compliance.

If you DO ACTUALLY HAVE OSA - then having it diagnosed and treated IS A GOOD THING, and can lead to better overall health and less risk of related complications down the road (so to speak), like my friend who has the pacemaker.

/end rant...

Rick

CSA:

Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA)

The CSA is a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) initiative to improve large truck and bus safety and ultimately reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities that are related to commercial motor vehicle

FMCSA:

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

The FMCSA was established within the Department of Transportation on January 1, 2000. Their primary mission is to prevent commercial motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries.

What Does The FMCSA Do?

  • Commercial Drivers' Licenses
  • Data and Analysis
  • Regulatory Compliance and Enforcement
  • Research and Technology
  • Safety Assistance
  • Support and Information Sharing

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

Sleep Apnea:

A physical disorder in which you have pauses in your breathing, or take shallow breaths, during sleep. These pauses can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. Normal breathing will usually resume, sometimes with a loud choking sound or snort.

In obstructive sleep apnea, your airways become blocked or collapse during sleep, causing the pauses and shallow breathing.

It is a chronic condition that will require ongoing management. It affects about 18 million people in the U.S.

BMI:

Body mass index (BMI)

BMI is a formula that uses weight and height to estimate body fat. For most people, BMI provides a reasonable estimate of body fat. The BMI's biggest weakness is that it doesn't consider individual factors such as bone or muscle mass. BMI may:

  • Underestimate body fat for older adults or other people with low muscle mass
  • Overestimate body fat for people who are very muscular and physically fit

It's quite common, especially for men, to fall into the "overweight" category if you happen to be stronger than average. If you're pretty strong but in good shape then pay no attention.

CPAP:

Constant Positive Airway Pressure

CPAP is a breathing assist device which is worn over the mouth or nose. It provides nighttime relief for individuals who suffer from Sleep Apnea.

Fm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Bruce K.'s Comment
member avatar

Today has been a bureaucratic nightmare of governmental proportions. I got eyeglasses and the company required me to redo my DOT physical so my corrective lenses restriction would be on my card. Ok, I did that and the sleep apnea issue popped up. I'm ok with the study test which is scheduled on April 22.

NOW the company that provides health related services to Schneider is asking for medical documentation about a prescription that I was taking, which was cleared by the company, but everyone including my personal physician can't locate the paperwork. I've been told it could take up to an additional week to resolve this. I've already been off work for two full weeks without pay. I'm very frustrated with this extended medical leave that has snowballed into this complicated situation. I'm tempted to quit driving and go back to my old job in construction. I'm posting this here because I don't want to do anything hasty and I think it would be better not to talk to my DBL for a third time today because I know I'm going to resign if I do.

Any advice for me? Could I switch to a company without such a cumbersome process, or is it the same everywhere?

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

Sleep Apnea:

A physical disorder in which you have pauses in your breathing, or take shallow breaths, during sleep. These pauses can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. Normal breathing will usually resume, sometimes with a loud choking sound or snort.

In obstructive sleep apnea, your airways become blocked or collapse during sleep, causing the pauses and shallow breathing.

It is a chronic condition that will require ongoing management. It affects about 18 million people in the U.S.

Rob T.'s Comment
member avatar

Bruce I totally understand being annoyed with the process but if you jump ship now you'll surely miss more time without a check. Schneider is just trying to cover their own ass. Just hang in there and go with the flow. I have a load coming up 151 to one of our stores in Madison in the wee hours of the morning, I'll be sure to lay on the air horn for ya. Be listening about 3am!

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