Physicians Providing Driver Exams Face New Federal Regulations

Final Rule Calls for National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners

June 20, 2012 03:30 pm News Staff
[Stock photo-Semi driving down highway ]

Family physicians who conduct physicals for interstate commercial motor vehicle drivers soon will have new federal requirements to which they must adhere.

Recently, the Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published a final rule( that calls for the creation of a training, testing and registration program to certify that medical professionals -- including family physicians -- are qualified to conduct medical certification exams of commercial truck and bus drivers.

The rule is intended to improve highway safety and driver health. According to background information in the final rule, previously there was no required training program for medical professionals who conducted driver physicals nor was specific knowledge of the FMCSA's physical qualification standards required.

story highlights

  • New federal regulations call for the creation of a training, testing and registration program for health professionals who provide physicals for drivers of commercial vehicles.
  • The new rule is intended to improve highway safety and driver health.
  • The regulation calls for medical examiners to recertify every 10 years and comply with additional reporting requirements.

Concerned that medical examiners could be "unaware of the mental and physical rigors that accompany the occupation of commercial motor vehicle drivers and how various medical conditions (and the therapies used to treat them) can affect the ability of drivers to safely operate commercial motor vehicles," the FMCSA revised its program.

The new regulation also calls for the establishment of a national registry of all medical examiners who have been tested and certified to conduct medical examinations. Medical professionals eligible to apply for medical examiner certification include medical doctors, osteopathic doctors, chiropractors, advanced practice nurses and physician assistants.

Once the new testing program is in place, potential medical examiners will need to attend an accredited training program -- with fees to be set by individual testing programs -- and pass a recertification test every 10 years. Continuous training will be available via refresher courses at five-year intervals along with e-mail and web updates from the FMCSA.

On a monthly basis, certified medical examiners also will need to electronically transmit certain information about completed medical examination reports of drivers who have undergone a medical exam.

Additionally, the final rule requires medical examiners to provide copies of medical reports and certificates to the safety agency within 48 hours of a request from enforcement personnel. "This level of responsiveness is required to enable FMCSA to investigate patterns of errors or improper certification by medical examiners," says the final rule.

The new regulations will be implemented by May 21, 2014.

Questions about the final rule can be sent by e-mail to the FMCSA.