Preparing For Your DOT Medical Exam
The launch of the DOT’s National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners (NRCME) program has ushered in a new era of driver and employer responsibility in regard to understanding the DOT medical examination process. The NRCME program aims to elevate the DOT medical exam to its originally intended level of scrutiny that can ensure safer drivers and safer roads across the country. By requiring certification of all medical examiners, the DOT made an obvious statement about quality and their continued efforts to eliminate “doctor shopping” by drivers, the practice of visiting provider after provider until someone finally issues a medical card, whether it is warranted or not.
Certain conditions have always led to shorter card terms or disqualification, and the new certification program has brought these to the forefront for many examiners who either never knew the regulations or never paid close enough attention to allow the regulations to guide their decision making. Hopefully, medical examiners across the country will be holding drivers to a more consistent standard when issuing cards.
In preparation, drivers and employers should pay particular attention to the conditions below that may exclude drivers from certification or require intermittent medical monitoring. Assembling the necessary documentation in advance of the exam can save drivers and employers considerable time and money.
These are the most common health problems associated with DOT medical certification or recertification that require documentation during the DOT exam to help expedite certification. Please have your treating physician fill out this form prior to your exam. Failure to do so will delay your receiving your health card.
History of Asthma / COPD
If you have a history of lung disease (asthma or COPD) or have symptoms of shortness of breath, cough, chest tightness, wheezing, or drivers over the age of 35 who smoke, you will need spirometry. You can arrange to have this done at your doctor’s office or occupational medicine clinic.
- A letter from the doctor treating for the sleep apnea stating that your current CPAP treatment is effectively controlling your sleep apnea
- Documentation that verifies your equipment (CPAP machine) is operating effectively and shows that you are compliant with the use of the CPAP (smart card printout)
- A letter from the doctor treating you for the diabetes stating you are being treated for diabetes is required. A list of the medications you are taking and that the medications are tolerated and would not interfere with the ability to drive must also be provided. The frequency of your glucose control and efficacy of treatment monitoring must be documented, along with verification that you have had no severe hypoglycemic reactions in the last 12 months. The date and results of your last hemoglobin A1C level must be provided. Any complications from diabetes (example: renal, cardiovascular or neurological concerns) must be documented.
Effective November 19 2018 a diabetic on insulin is no longer required to have a diabetic waiver. However, the driver on insulin must present a ITDM Assessment Form from the drivers treating physician stating that the driver maintains a stable insulin regiment and proper control of his or hers diabetes.
Drivers with an ITDM will be required to provide their treating physician with at least three (3) months of blood glucose monitoring records and may be certified up to one year. If the driver does not have three months of records, he may receive up to a three month certificate until the driver has three months of records.
If a diabetic driver has a severe hypoglycemic event, he or she is not allowed to drive and must report to the treating physician for evaluation as soon as possible. The driver will be prohibited to drive until the treating physician determines that driver is once again stable and properly controlled. The final rule defines “severe hypoglycemic event” as one requiring the assistance from others or resulting in loss of consciousness, seizure or coma.
- A letter from your eye doctor or the doctor treating you for your diabetes must state the date of your last eye exam and that there is no retinopathy. Unstable proliferative or unstable nonproliferative retinopathy is disqualifying.
- If you are on incretin mimetic treatment, such as Byetta (exenatide) or Bydureon (exenatide extended-release), a letter from your doctor prescribing this medication describing your tolerance to the medication is required. How frequently you are monitored for adequate blood glucose control and efficacy of treatment must also be documented.
- History of heart attack, angina, or post-PCI: You will need a letter from your cardiologist stating that you are cleared to drive a commercial motor vehicle with no restrictions. DOT requires an exercise stress test every 2 years. You will need to bring a copy of the stress test results to your exam. If the above has occurred in the past year, a copy of the most recent Echocardiogram is also required.
- History of cardiac bypass surgery: A letter is required from you cardiologist stating that you are cleared to drive a commercial motor vehicle with no restrictions. After 5 years from the date of surgery you will need a yearly exercise stress test. Please bring the stress test results to the DOT exam. If the bypass surgery is within the past year, a copy of your most recent echocardiogram will be required.
If you are taking warfarin for cardiovascular disease, please bring a copy of the most recent INR results to your DOT exam.
If you a taking topamax, neurontin (gabapentin), or other seizure medication for other than a seizure disorder (example: chronic pain or migraine prophylaxis), bring a letter from the doctor prescribing the medication stating that the medication is not being prescribed for seizure. Also, if you are experiencing side effects, the letter must state that the side effects would not interfere with driving a commercial motor vehicle.
Histories Requiring Limited Certification (one year or less):
- High blood pressure
- Sleep Apnea
- Cardiovascular Disease
- Heart Surgeries
Medications Requiring Limited Certification (one year or less):
- Warfarin (cardiovascular disease)
- Antidepressants: Pristiq, Cymbalta, Effexor, Effexor XR, Celexa, Lexapro, Prozac, Prozac Weekly, Sarafem, Paxil, Paxil CR, Zoloft
- Antipsychotics: Abilify, Abilify Discmelt, Saphris, Zyprexa, Zyprexa Zydis, Seroquel, Seroquel XR, Risperdal, Risperdal M-Tabs, Geodon, Symbyax, Nardil, ESAM, Parnate
If you are taking any of the following prescription medications, bring the actual prescription bottles with you to your DOT exam: Ambien (zolpidem), anxiolytics such as Alprazolam, lorazepam, Xanax, and pain medications such as hydrocodone/APAP, Vicodin, tramadol, or oxycodone. These medications will require the prescribing physician to sign off on the medication and you can download the form here PRIOR to your visit and bring the completed form to your exam so there will be no delay in obtaining your DOT health card.
Histories Requiring Limited Certification (one year or less):
Note: The medications listed above require a safety letter from the driver’s Primary Medical Provider indicating the prescribed medication is tolerated and no side effects interfere with driving a commercial motor vehicle. Source: Eastern Medical Support, LLC. • Amsterdam, NY
I am the administrator for the Charlotte DOT Exam facility, located in Charlotte NC. I oversee the facility services providing DOT exams in accordance with the standards of the FMCSA. We also provide DOT drug testing with MRO support when required. Drug testing can also be done for non-DOT exams such as pre-employment. In order to minimize wait times, I always encourage our clients to contact us first and make an appointment.
I would also suggest that each individual wanting to test for the CDL health card read the article “Preparing For Your DOT Exam” as it lists several things to bring to the test, such as CPAP usage reports and medicine lists.