On April 20th 2012, the US Department of Transportation (DOT) and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) established a Final Rule creating the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners (National Registry). Policy enforcement is set to begin on May 21st, 2014.
The FMCSA developed these new policies and National Registry to improve highway safety and driver health. This will be accomplished by requiring that medical examiners (ME) who perform DOT exams are trained and certified in accordance to FMCSA’s standards.
Previously, a licensed health care provider (HCP) would determine the physical qualifications of almost all interstate commercial drivers. Unfortunately, the HCP was not required to have any specific knowledge of the FMCSA’s physical qualification standards. This caused many HCP’s to be unaware of the mental and physical rigors that accompany the occupation of CMV drivers.
The FMCSA requires that certified ME’s are licensed and registered in accordance with applicable State laws to perform such physical exams. The following HCP’s may apply for ME certification:
- Advanced Practice Nurses (APN)
- Doctors of Chiropractic (DC)
- Doctors of Medicine (MD)
- Doctors of Osteopathy (DO)
- Physician Assistants (PA)
- Other HCP authorized by their State to perform physical examinations.
An immediate urgency to this policy follows an AAPA survey of 1,167 drivers across the United States found that 32% suffered from hypertension and 14% of diabetes. The Large Truck Crash Causation Study (LTCCS) study also shows that of approximately 2.2% of crashes where the truck driver was a main contributor, the main factor was the health or physical condition of the driver. The FMCSA hopes this new policy can prevent 1,219 crashes per year.
As before, employers may continue to require employees be examined by an ME assigned or compensated by the employer. This allows employers to select ME’s with stricter requirements then the policy requires. Employers are not required to review the medical history of the employee, but instead must only verify a passing mark and approved medical card.
The FMCSA believes that this policy will be a step toward improving the driver medical certification process. By requiring employers to verify the ME’s National Registry Number on the website, the FMCSA hope to eliminate the opportunity for fraud.