AAFP Champions Role for FPs in Federal Diabetes Program

July 22, 2015 10:54 am News Staff

In response to concerns recently voiced by the Georgia AFP, the AAFP is pushing for a greater role for family physicians in a federal program that lets commercial drivers who have diabetes use insulin while they drive.

According to the Federal Diabetes Exemption Program form(www.fmcsa.dot.gov) commercial drivers must complete and submit to be considered for the exception, only a "board-certified or board-eligible endocrinologist" is allowed to perform some of the required evaluations.

That stipulation didn't sit well with AAFP Board Chair Reid Blackwelder, M.D., of Kingsport, Tenn., who fired off a letter to the U.S Department of Transportation demanding the language be changed.

In his July 15 letter,(1 page PDF) Blackwelder argued that family physicians also should be eligible to conduct those evaluations.

"We urge you to change the guidance and application to make it clear that applicants may be examined by their family physician rather than an endocrinologist if they wish," the letter reads.

Blackwelder's letter notes that family physicians are heavily involved in treating chronic diseases such as diabetes and that some drivers seeking the exemption may not have access to an endocrinologist. Among patients with diabetes, about 34 percent of their ambulatory care visits to physicians are made to family physicians or general practitioners, according to the letter.

"Family physicians are dedicated and trained to treat the whole person and are more than capable of managing and treating patients with diabetes," Blackwelder says in the letter. "The AAFP believes that family physicians are able to complete the forms needed by commercial motor vehicle drivers with diabetes who are applying for this program."

Drivers can receive an exemption for two years and then must reapply. The exemption program exists for drivers who operate commercial vehicles that cross state lines.

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