PREPARE FOR A DOT PHYSICAL
Since the NRCME took effect on May 21, 2014, many drivers have encountered a variety of problems. Until these issues are resolved, it’s advised that you prepare ahead for your DOT physical. Being an informed consumer ensures the best chance for a good outcome. Otherwise your CDL may be at risk.
Allow ample time before your physical expires. In worse cases, drivers have been told they must have unplanned testing completed and follow-up treatment before a doctor will issue or renew the medical card. Periods of 30 days or longer are common for this.
Similar to documentation requirements for insurance and registration in your truck, if you have received treatment for a medical condition/are on medication/are using a CPAP…etc bring documentation related to any conditions you are being treated for.
Day of the exam
Relax! You are prepared. Get a good night’s rest the night before.
If you have any reason to suspect that you might encounter a problem passing the physical, the time to take care of that is well before the exam. Taking a chance on passing or not means taking a chance on possibly losing your medical certification and that means losing income. It could take 30, 60, or more days to get a problem fixed before you can resume driving. Avoid that problem by investing in a visit to your personal physician, preferably a physician who is on the NRCME so they will be familiar with the requirements you must meet. Your visits with your personal physician are not reported to the FMCSA (even if the physician is on the NRCME). Any problems you may have can be corrected before you get the DOT physical from another physician. If you need it, view that extra visit as a very worthwhile insurance plan to protect your CDL.
Make a call to learn how much the ME charges. It might be under $100 or more than $300.
Knowledge is power!
The link below will take you to the 13 basic requirements in regulation which a driver must meet to be medically qualified. If a CME tells you that you cannot pass the exam, politely ask which one of these regulations you are not meeting. The list is very simple and short and begins at about the half-way point of the page.
2nd opinion is Okay – Lying is not
While it will not be free, a second opinion may save your CDL. If you feel a CME is being fraudulent/incompetent/or is just plain wrong, you may get a second opinion (or third), just do not lie or mislead. Here is a brief interview with the FMCSA Director of Carrier, Driver and Vehicle Safety Standards regarding a 2nd opinion.
Example of what is permitted:
A driver goes to doctor A. The doctor refuses certification for some reason based on the doctor’s judgment. The driver believes this is not correct and goes to doctor B for a second opinion. Doctor B finds no reason to refuse certification based on the doctor’s judgment. This driver is correctly certified for the time indicated by doctor B.
Example of what is illegal – (“doctor shopping”)
Driver goes to doctor A. Driver either tells the doctor about a condition the driver has which is disqualifying, or the doctor determines the driver has a condition which is disqualifying. The driver then goes to doctor B. At doctor B the driver lies about the driver’s medical status by not disclosing the known medical condition. This can happen by not honestly filling out the form or by lying to doctor B when asked about the condition. This example is illegal and not advisable.
Do NOT lie!
When a driver goes to more than one medical examiner, this shows up in the certified medical examiner database. It will be reviewed. If the driver gave the same information to both examiners it is not a problem and the most recent exam will be the drivers current status. If the information the driver provided is not consistent this will be followed up on and if found to be dishonest can result in disqualification.
Since the NRCME took effect on May 21, 2014 many drivers have encountered problems. Until these issues can be fixed some extra effort when preparing for a DOT physical is wise. An informed consumer who takes defensive measures ensures the best chance for a good outcome. Otherwise your CDL may be at risk.
Starting on April 20, 2016 all Certified Medical Examiners (CMEs) must use a new Medical Examination Report (the long form) and new Medical Examiner Certificate (the form you must present to your state driver’s license agency). The new Medical Examination Report (MER) is form MCSA-5875, and the new Medical Examiner’s Certificate (MEC) is form MCSA-5876 You can view both forms along with full details on the changes here (the forms are on pages 6 – 10).Keep in mind that the deadline for these changes was moved from Dec 22nd to April 20, however this document references the Dec 22nd date.
The FMCSA has experienced difficulty in communicating these changes to CMEs and many CMEs have expressed confusion about the new requirements. Some CMEs may not be aware of the changes. If you will be visiting a CME in the time shortly after April 20th you may wish to take a print out of the one page samples we provide and ensure that you are given the correct form. Without the correct form you will not be able to have your medical certification linked to your CDL as required. The correct form numbers are circled in red.
The samples are here: MEC Sample
Some of the changes
The new Medical Examination Report (MER) form MCSA-5875 now has a “not sure” answer for the driver health questions.
All driver health history questions now ask “Do you have or have you ever had…” They refer to your entire lifetime of medical history. The previous forms only asked for the past 5 years of medical history.
The CME will have the option of placing the driver in “up to 45 day pending” determination status. This will allow the driver to get more documentation, test results, or any items the CME needs in order to make a determination the driver is physically compliant to drive a CMV. This will not extend a medical card beyond its current expiration date. During a pending determination the driver may use the rest of the time that’s left on the current medical card and continue to drive.
There are no longer short-term extensions of medical certifications. A driver may receive a short-term certification. But after the time expires, the driver will have to undergo a complete exam again.