OOIDA to FMCSA: Change medical conflict provision

By Mark Schremmer, Land Line associate editor | 6/27/2018

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is advocating for changes to the FMCSA’s “Resolution of Medical Conflict” provision in order to protect the rights of a truck driver who believes his or her medical evaluation was incorrect.

OOIDA President Todd Spencer recently submitted formal comments asking the agency not to disqualify a driver during the time a medical conflict is being resolved.

FMCSA posted an information collection request regarding medical qualification requirements on April 27. The notice includes a “Resolution of Medical Conflict” provision, which seeks to provide a mechanism for drivers and motor carriers to request that FMCSA make a final decision to resolve conflicting medical evaluations when either party does not accept the decision of a medical specialist.

If two medical examiners disagree about the medical certification of a driver, the applicant must submit results of all medical testing and the opinion of an impartial medical specialist in the field in which the conflict arose.

While the intent of the provision may be to protect drivers who were incorrectly evaluated, OOIDA says it hasn’t worked out that way. For instance, many drivers have said they have been told they need to be tested for sleep apnea based on body mass index or the size of their neck alone.

“OOIDA members have encountered a great deal of problems regarding this provision,” Spencer wrote. “These situations typically involve a certified medical examiner who is requiring expensive testing while basing their justification upon a cursory ‘examination,’ which may include no further evidence than the visual observation that the driver has a large neck. The existing provision is only constructed to intervene in a conflict between the physician for the driver and the physician for the motor carrier concerning the driver’s qualifications.”

The Association also criticizes making drivers, who submit a conflict application, be deemed disqualified until a determination on the conflict is made.

“This completely removes any incentive to utilize this provision, given the driver will immediately lose their ability to earn an income,” Spencer wrote. “We would encourage the agency to change this aspect of the provision so that a driver may continue working while the resolution is being reviewed and adjudicated. We recommend that all decisions be made within a 90-day time period instead of the unlimited review window currently in place.”

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