Slumbering Concerns: Sleep Disorder Treatment Risks and Liabilities


Liability Risks for Sleep Disorders
More than 25% of people in the United States report an occasional problem getting enough sleep. Sleeping difficulties have been associated with the development and management of chronic diseases. Insufficient sleep also can lead to injuries and disability resulting from motor vehicle or machinery-related accidents.

Chronic insomnia affects almost 10% of the population. Other disorders that affect the amount and/or the quality of a person’s sleep include sleep apnea, narcolepsy, restless leg syndrome, hypersomnia, and parasomnia.

Sleep apnea has become more common with the aging of the population and the increased incidence of obesity, but not all sufferers get diagnosed. Many members of the medical community have concerns about the health risks for patients with undiagnosed sleep apnea. Others, including insurers, worry about the costs and extent of unnecessary sleep testing and treatment.

Injuries related to sleep disorders may give rise to legal claims, including claims for medical malpractice or negligence, which can result in high settlements and awards. Attorneys, physicians, hospitals, insurers, employers, and others at risk for liability need to be aware of the types of litigation issues that may arise in connection with a sleep disorder injury.