New DOT Medical Exam Requirements: How Do They Affect You?

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If you operate as a commercial driver, you may wonder how the new DOT medical examination requirements affect your future. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) implemented new rules that affect how drivers complete their medical exams and forms in the future. Drivers must reveal all present and past health problems when they complete their medical forms, or else they can't obtain medical clearance to drive. If you don't meet the new requirements, it may affect your ability to drive.

New Medical Forms Requirements

Before the FMCSA implemented the new changes, the organization only required you to report a five-year medical history on your DOT certification forms. However, after December 22, 2015, you must report every medical condition, hospital visit, medication, and treatment you experienced throughout your lifetime. Although the new requirements may seem extreme, they're designed to protect trucking companies and their employees from dangerous accidents on the road.

A number of drivers experience life-threatening or fatal road accidents due to undiagnosed, unreported or untreated medical problems. In order to put a stop to this dangerous trend in trucking, the FMCSA added new questions on the DOT reporting forms used by medical examiners during certification visits. For example, the new forms may ask you if you spent time in the hospital for high blood pressure, heart problems or some other condition that can potentially impede your ability to drive.

One of the biggest problems with truck drivers today is exhaustion and the lack of sleep. Many heart-related health issues can show up when the body's fatigued and stressed. If you drive long hours each day or don't take breaks between trips, you may place stress on your body that may eventually trigger problems with your heart.

If your medical examiner finds a critical issue with your health, they can request that you see a doctor for a medical evaluation.

New Medical Follow-Up Requirements

The medical or health evaluation is used to properly diagnose and treat your health problem in a reasonable amount of time. In the past, medical examiners gave truck drivers additional time to complete their medical evaluations and follow-up exams. But new upcoming rules only give you up to 45 days to do both. Keep in mind that a medical examiner can't approve your certification without the proper medical documentation. However, the examiner can deny your certification if you don't follow up with a doctor. 

The medical examiner needs to make sure that you can successfully drive on the road without harming yourself or other people. The evaluation may include stress tests to see how well you and your body hold up under pressure. Other tests may include blood and urine analysis to see if you have an underlying health problem that created your current condition.

If the doctor finds a problem, they must develop a treatment plan for you that successfully controls it. The treatment plan may include medications, physical therapy and occupational therapy. The medical examiner will need real proof of your treatment before they can make a decision about your trucking certification. The treatment must have your condition under control in order to receive approval for your certification.

If your treatment doesn't control your health problem or allow you to drive your truck safely, the DOT medical examiner can deny you. You may seek a second opinion from another medical examiner right away. If you choose to do so, it's a good idea that you ask your medical doctor to send copies of your health evaluation to the new medical examiner. It may save you time on your new DOT medical exam if you do so.

For more information about the new DOT medical exam requirements, contact a medical examiner in your area today.