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FMCSA Unveils More Medical Examiner Rule Changes

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has unveiled a second round of changes to the Medical Examiner rule. In a request for comments, the Agency revealed a plan to require same day reporting of medical results to the Federal government.

FMCSA — already shaking up the industry by restricting Medi­cal Examiner status to a select few — has now proposed that driver medical results be report­ed to the Federal government. Under proposed new rules, Medical Examiners would be re­quired to send in the results of a DOT physical on the same day that it was performed.

To provide for the complicated logistics of this, FMCSA would create a new electronic report­ing system for doctors to use. FMCSA has also released a new Medical Examination Report Form for use during a DOT Physi­cal.

In a move that carriers may be pleased by, FMCSA has said that if this system is put in place, they would stop the requirement for a driver to provide a Medical Certificate to his or her employ­er and State Licencing Authority. The state would be able to look up the driver in an online regis­try.

Same Day Reporting

Under the proposed rule, a driver would visit a doctor (reg­istered on the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners) and undergo a standard DOT Physical. The doctor would then be required to send the results of all the physicals done in a day to FMCSA via the online system.

This would include physicals that were failed as well as pass­es. FMCSA would then send the information to the appropriate state.

Essentially, this would take the burden of providing a Medi­cal Examiner’s Certificate off of the driver and onto the doctor. FMCSA would thereby remove the ability of a driver to go to another doctor if they don’t pass the physical.

This is a sign of the level of part­nership that FMCSA is trying to build with the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners. These doctors will have received training on the safety implica­tions of the physical and the im­portance of driver fitness.

Online Reporting System

In the Notice of Proposed Rule­making, FMCSA has estimated that that electronic reporting system would save states and drivers $10.1 million every year. Interestingly, however, they cit­ed only a vague improvement in roadway safety:

“Although the safety benefits of this rule are difficult to fully quantify, the agency believes that the fraud prevention in electronic transmission of [med­ical certificates] will continue to improve safety on public roads,” FMCSA said in the NPRM.

Medical Examiners

This is the second wave in changes to the Medical Exami­nation process, however, FMCSA is far from ready with the first round of changes. Under that plan, drivers would no longer be able to visit any doctor to receive a DOT Physical. Instead, they would have to visit doctors who have received additional training on commercial driver requirements and have passed an examination.

This will dramatically reduce the number of doctors available to perform physicals. FMCSA has said that it expects about 40,000 registered doctors by the May, 2014 implementation date. As of April of this year, however, only 800 doctors had taken part. Reg­istration has been open since summer of 2012.

Commenting

Your comments are encouraged. This is your opportunity to make your voice heard. FMCSA does read all comments and responds to commonly cited complaints or concerns during the rulemak­ing process. You may submit comments identified by Docket Number FMCSA- 2012-0178 us­ing any of the following meth­ods:

  • Web: http://www.regulations.gov.
  • Mail: Docket Management Fa­cility, U.S. Department of Trans­portation, 1200 New Jersey Av­enue SE., West Building, Ground Floor, Room W12-140, Washing­ton, DC 20590-0001.
  • Hand Delivery or Courier: Same address, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. E.T., Monday through Fri­day, except Federal holidays.
  • Fax: 202-493-2251.