Medication form will increase time of exams, OOIDA says

By Mark Schremmer, Land Line staff writer | 8/9/2016

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s proposed driver medication form is based on a flawed premise and will negatively affect truck drivers, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association said in formal comments filed Monday, Aug. 8.

OOIDA was responding to FMCSA’s plan to implement a new information collection request and commercial motor vehicle driver medication form. The notice was published July 8 in the Federal Register, and Monday was the final day for comments. 

The 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 request will assist medical examiners in determining whether the driver is medically qualified to operate a truck. As part of the report, there would be a listing of all medications and dosages prescribed to a driver, all medications and dosages the health care professional knows that are being prescribed by another health care provider, and the medical conditions being treated by those medications.

FMCSA originally proposed the new form in November 2015. Despite a variety of concerns outlined by OOIDA in January 2016, the FMCSA opted to move forward with the current notice.

“In our previous comments, OOIDA notes that the Agency was relying upon the flawed belief that the licit use of opioids increases the risk of motor vehicle crashes and negatively impacts driver performance,” OOIDA wrote.

The Association cited the report titled “Expert Panel Commentary and Recommendations: Licit Schedule II Drug Use and Commercial Motor Vehicle Driver Safety” as saying there is an insufficient amount of data to determine whether there is a connection between Schedule II licit drug use and crash risk.

“FMCSA claimed that OOIDA’s comments were outside the scope of the notice, even while acknowledging that the ‘optional use of the 391.41 CMV Driver Medication Form was introduced as a result of the Medical Review Board and the Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee recommendations related to the use of Schedule II medications by CMV drivers,’” OOIDA wrote. “Throughout the notice, FMCSA continues to reference the use of scheduled substances while simultaneously claiming that OOIDA comments were outside the scope of the notice.”

OOIDA also says that the new form would impose additional burdens on truck drivers.

“While the Agency repeatedly shows concern for the time that a physician may spend filling out the proposed form, the fact that a driver may spend time while waiting for a physician is not considered in the proposal,” OOIDA wrote. “The very nature of FMCSA’s information collection request will increase the time to complete a medical examination by proposing that the certified medical examiner send a voluntary questionnaire to the commercial motor vehicle driver’s healthcare provider.”

In a response to OOIDA’s previous comments, FMCSA discounted many of the concerns by pointing out that the form is voluntary.

“While FMCSA claims that the commercial motor vehicle driver medication form is voluntary, the additional protection which the form provides against any possible liability returning upon the certified medical examiner will likely alter the supposed ‘voluntary’ use of the form,” OOIDA wrote. “Thus the Agency’s belief that the form will not impose any excess burden is not valid. This is further compounded by not limiting the medications to those which may be a risk to the safe operation of a commercial motor vehicle. By asking for any and all medications, this invites further problems … such as those where certified medical examiners second-guess the treating physician.”

OOIDA says the FMCSA hasn’t done anything to address the problems that longer exam times will cause drivers.

“Creating longer wait times to complete an exam and basing it on a flawed premise that the licit use of drugs increases the risk of a crash, when in fact no such data exists, is not supported by OOIDA,” the Association wrote. “The proposed form will lengthen the medical examination process in order to accommodate the gathering of additional information, while also possibly compounding the already existent issues with the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners. The Agency must address these concerns.”

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