Medical Examination Certifications: What Truckers Should & Should Not Do in These ExamsMay 17, 2018
Truck drivers are required to undergo medical examination certifications (MECs) when applying for commercial drivers’ licenses (CDLs) and every two years thereafter to maintain their CDLs. These MECs are focused on identifying any health issues or impairments that may prevent truckers from being able to safely operate commercial vehicles on the roads.
Given that medical exam certifications can impact truckers’ licenses, being prepared for these exams can be essential to helping truckers maintain their jobs and protect their income. It can also be critical to ensuring that MECs properly document truckers’ health condition, particularly if they are ever involved in a wreck later.
In fact, in the aftermath of a truck crash, an accurate medical exam certification can be used to prove that:
- A trucker’s health condition did not contribute an accident.
- The crash caused certain injuries or health complications (when comparing pre-crash MECs to doctor’s reports after the crash).
To help truck drivers protect themselves in MECs, the following presents some tips regarding what to do and what to avoid doing during these exams.
Tips for Truckers: What to Do in Medical Exam Certifications
- Get treatment for known medical conditions before the MEC – If you believe you have an undiagnosed medical condition, take action before the medical exam certification to get the condition diagnosed, treated and under control. If the condition is not identified until the MEC, the doctor may order more tests and put off signing the certification until the condition is being properly managed.
- Prepare information related to medications being taken and the treating physician(s) – For any medications you are currently taking, be ready to provide a list of these drugs, along with the dosage being taken and the reason for taking the drugs. Also, be prepared to share the name(s) and contact information for the doctor(s) you are seeing for these conditions. These details can be essential to helping MEC doctors make a proper medical assessment and verify that any existing health conditions are being properly managed and treated by qualified medical professionals.
- Honestly answer medical questions during the MEC – The doctor administering the medical exam certification will likely ask a series of health-related questions to gather more details about a driver’s condition and lifestyle habits (particularly when it comes to sleeping, alcohol use and drug use). The answers given in these exams can be crosschecked with other medical records and/or verified with further testing (like blood tests, for instance). So, answer these questions honestly. Lying will not serve a driver’s best interests.
- Be prepared for additional testing – Depending on a truck driver’s health and the answers provided during the MEC, the attending physician may order more tests to be carried out. You can prepare yourself for this possibility by scheduling the MEC at least 30 days before the certification is needed. That can provide a window of time for follow-up testing without compromising the CDL or the trucker’s job.
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Tips for Truckers: What NOT to Do in Medical Exam Certifications
- Do NOT see a doctor who is not on the National Registry of certified examiners – Only exams conducted by physicians on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA’s) National Registry (here) will be valid. So, don’t waste your time or money seeing an uncertified doctor for these exams.
- Do NOT forget to bring eyeglasses or other assistive devices – If you wear eyeglasses, use a hearing aid or rely on other assistive devices to drive (or carry out other job duties), bring these devices with you to the exam so you can be tested with them. This will allow for more accurate results regarding your abilities to safely operate a truck.
- Do NOT be afraid to seek a second opinion when necessary – Not all medical exam certifications lead to accurate evaluations of truckers’ health. Whenever a driver feels that an MEC contains wrong, inaccurate or misleading information, (s)he should seek a second opinion from another doctor on the FMCSA’s National Registry. If the information provided in both of these exams is consistent, the results of the most recent MEC will typically be those used to determine the driver’s status.
- Do NOT provide inconsistent information to doctors conducting MECs – If a trucker does seek a second opinion, it’s essential that (s)he provides accurate, consistent information in both of these exams. Failing to do so can disqualify an existing certification and potentially have other negative consequences for drivers.
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