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Tuesday Mar 26, 2013

Physicians' ability to provide DOT physicals gets added twists and turns

If you're one of the thousands of family physicians who provide commercial truck and bus driver patients with their Department of Transportation-mandated physical examinations, change is coming.

New regulations going into effect May 21, 2014, will, for the first time, require that all medical professionals who provide these examinations be certified and registered by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

Medical professionals have long performed the examinations to ensure drivers are physically qualified to operate a commercial motor vehicle. Typically, examiners had to be licensed, certified, and registered only according to laws in their respective states.

But the National Transportation Safety Board recommended creating a National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners to unify medical oversight of commercial drivers and ensure examiners understand and are trained on FMCSA physical qualifications and standards.

Officials said some examiners were certifying drivers with serious medical conditions that should have disqualified them from commercial driving, and some of those drivers were involved in fatal wrecks or crashes causing serious injury.

The new rule states that, in order to issue a DOT medical certificate, a medical professional must be either a doctor of medicine, doctor of osteopathy, doctor of chiropractic, physician assistant, advanced practice nurse, or any other medical professional authorized by the particular state's law to perform physical examinations. In addition, the individual must pass an examination of the FMCSA to become certified. Once certified and registered, a medical examiner must be recertified every 10 years and must complete periodic refresher training every five years.

The final rule establishing the national registry went into effect on May 21, 2012, and medical examiners have two years to become compliant.

For more information regarding this new rule and to find training opportunity locations, see the FMCSA's FAQ page(nrcme.fmcsa.dot.gov).

– Renae Moch, MBA, CMPE, Practice Management Strategist for the American Academy of Family Physicians

Posted at 02:02PM Mar 26, 2013 by David Twiddy

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