OOIDA finds information collection request on meds flawed

By Mark Schremmer, staff writer

OOIDA is opposing the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's proposed driver medication form. The agency wants to allow medical examiners to use the form voluntarily to get additional information from a driver's personal physician about drugs prescribed to the driver.

The voluntary collection request would allow certified medical examiners to communicate with primary health care professionals who prescribe medication to drivers of commercial motor vehicles. FMCSA says the information collection will assist medical examiners in determining whether the driver is medically qualified to operate a truck.

The report would include the listing of all medications and dosages prescribed to a driver, all medications and dosages the health care professional knows are being prescribed by another health care provider, and the medical conditions being treated by these medications.

OOIDA filed formal comments about the FMCSA's new information collection request in late January and opposes the collection of such information.

"If this information collection request were to be enacted, the number of inconsistencies will grow as certified medical examiners with no personal relationship with the driver attempt to evaluate a great deal of long-term medication usage," OOIDA wrote in its formal comments.

"This proposal invites second guessing of a primary physician by certified medical examiners who are empowered by an unreliable medical form. Studies do not show a significant number of CMV operators are crashing due to prescription medication use, as this information collection request would imply. The information collection request would only increase problems OOIDA members have already experienced with certified medical examiners, which have resulted in higher costs and lengthier delays for drivers."

The Association contends that there is a flawed basis for the collection request.

According to a 2006 report on truck driver safety, "FMCSA requires that guidance from the Medical Review Board be science-based and represent best practice."

According to FMCSA's own statistics from the "Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts" report for 2013, only 1.5 percent of all crashes involving large trucks included an indication that the driver was under the influence of alcohol, drugs or medication. The vast majority of that 1.5 percent was alcohol related.

"Despite a clear lack of sufficient data regarding the use of Schedule II drugs by CMV drivers, the information collection request claims 'there is moderate evidence to support the contention that the licit use of opioids increases the risk of motor vehicle crashes and impacts indirect measures of driver performance negatively,'" OOIDA wrote.

"The Evidence Report Findings clearly state that there is not sufficient science-based data to draw a conclusion. This… exaggerates the findings on this small study with conflicting results to justify the need for the proposed driver medication form."

OOIDA also argues that a personal physician is best equipped to review a patient's medical history.

The Association contends that the request would lead medical examiners "to question every medication and dosage which has been previously prescribed." Medical examiners would be "basing these judgments on only a matter of moments with the driver."

Having health care professionals attempt to list all of the medications and dosages prescribed by someone else could lead to inaccurate reporting, OOIDA contends.

"This could mean that a patient who once took medication for high blood pressure, but now has their blood pressure under control, would need to prove the information is not current if it were reported erroneously," OOIDA wrote. "Asking a second party to report on a third party will needlessly extend the time of verification of information and adversely affect the driver's ability to earn a living."

The Association believes the consequences of the information collection request would be negative to truck drivers.

"This information collection request will lead to higher costs and longer wait times for drivers as they complete the examination with a certified medical examiner," OOIDA wrote. "It is already a common occurrence for medical examiners to conduct excessive testing beyond what is required under the current medical examination form."

The Association says the information collection request will only make matters worse.

"OOIDA does not support this ICR. If a certified medical examiner has additional concerns based on what the driver reports, or based on their observations of the driver, they may contact the personal physician to gain further insight. This ICR would only serve to increase problems OOIDA members have already experienced with medical examiners, who go far beyond evaluating the driver's wellness and instead look for any excuse to further their own economic benefit." LL