FMCSA medical examiner handbook removed for revisions

By David Tanner, Land Line senior editor | Friday, December 12, 2014

The FMCSA has temporarily removed its online guidance to certified medical examiners. According to the administration’s website, the FMCSA Medical Examiner Handbook is in the process of being updated.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners went live in May 2014. It requires a commercial vehicle operator to obtain a medical card from an approved examiner that has completed certification.

FMCSA published the following statement on its website regarding its medical handbook:

“Please Note: This document is in the process of being updated. A revised version will be published shortly.

“The FMCSA Medical Examiner Handbook provides information and guidance to the medical examiner who performs the commercial driver medical examination. Determining driver medical fitness for duty is a critical element of the FMCSA safety program. Specialists, such as cardiologists and endocrinologists, may perform additional medical evaluation, but it is the medical examiner who decides if the driver is medically qualified to drive.”

No other reason was given.

In October, two U.S. representatives challenged the way some certified examiners and the third-party medical trainers hired by FMCSA to train the examiners were advising on the issue of sleep apnea.

U.S. Reps. Larry Bucshon, R-Ind., and Dan Lipinski, R-Ill., questioned FMCSA about whether the agency was following the letter of a 2013 law, formerly bill HR3095, that prohibits FMCSA from implementing or enforcing requirements on sleep apnea screening and treatment for truckers unless the agency first goes through a formal rulemaking and comment process.

FMCSA acting Administrator Scott Darling responded to their letter in November, saying the administration planned to issue a bulletin to certified examiners and medical trainers to clarify the difference between guidance and actual regulations on the issue of apnea.

In addition, the administration has said it intends to issue a notice of proposed rulemaking on obstructive sleep apnea for truck drivers in the future.

See related stories:
FMCSA to clarify guidance to medical examiners on sleep apnea
U.S. lawmakers call out medical trainers for pushing apnea tests for truckers

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