Why Motor Carriers Should Start Using Medical Questionnaires?

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When the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners was introduced the goal was to improve highway safety and driver health by providing access to high-quality medical exams consistent with Federal regulations and guidelines.

However, a year after the National Registry’s introduction, two unfortunate side effects have resulted.

Unanticipated Effects of the National Registry

First, the cost of commercial motor vehicle drivers’ physical exams has increased substantially.

Second, in addition to increased costs, many drivers are experiencing delays receiving their medical certification as a result of legacy medical conditions.

Drivers suffering from medical conditions that were never properly addressed by the untrained medical examiner, previously used, are now coming to light as a result of the trained, certified staff.

Drivers are being inconvenienced by being asked to provide additional medical information or by having to make repetitive trips to the examiner for additional testing or follow-up exams.

How to Cut Costs and Expedite the Driver Physical Exam Process

One potential option that is simple and cost-effective at helping to reduce costs and expedite the exam process is to implement a pre-exam medical questionnaire (post-offer or for incumbent drivers).

Prior to incurring the costs of an exam, the driver would complete a medical questionnaire that specifically asks about medical conditions that could be potentially disqualifying.

Questionnaires must be narrowly tailored to inquire only about such physical or medical information that is specifically and directly related to the position for which the applicant is being considered, in accordance with applicable legal requirements.

A discussion with your legal counsel regarding this solution is warranted in order to tailor the questionnaire in a fashion that is not discriminatory to existing or potential drivers.

The questionnaire would then be reviewed by Medical Compliance Specialists (MCS) who are qualified on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) minimum medical requirements.

For any areas of concern that may send up a red flag, the MCS team would contact the driver to collect all pertinent information related to their conditions, so a proper and thorough medical evaluation can be made.

Benefits of a Medical Questionnaire

  • Allows drivers to be pre-screened prior to costly examinations
  • Diminishes the amount of short-term temporary medical certifications issued
  • Provides the driver with the opportunity to gather pertinent medical information to give the best and fastest chance to be medically certified
  • Helps eliminate repetitive clinic visits
  • Reduces onboarding time and expense
  • Establishes whether reasonable adjustments need to be made to the work environment to accommodate drivers physical needs

Physical Exam Impact Minimal

Data gathered from over 50,000 exams per year reviewed by HireRight’s Medical Compliance Specialists showed that nearly 90% of all temporarily unqualified drivers are identified by medical history alone. The actual exam itself has no further impact on the certification decision.

If you’re looking for a quick solution that can dramatically impact your physical exam screening costs and time, consider implementing a well-crafted medical questionnaire that addresses your specific job requirements.

Employers should consult with their experienced employment counsel prior to implementing any medical questionnaire program to ensure that all legal obligations are satisfied, including but not limited to those arising under the Americans with Disabilities Act, as amended.

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Dr. Todd Simo

Dr. Simo is the Chief Medical Officer and VP of Business Development at HireRight. He served as HireRight’s medical director starting in 2009 and was promoted to chief medical officer in 2015. Dr. Simo was also appointed to the role of managing director of transportation and drug & health screening in 2018. Dr. Simo came to HireRight with a decade of experience in the medical consulting arena. Before that he was the medical director for an occupational health clinic in Virginia and owned a consulting firm providing medical director services to employers across the United States

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The HireRight Blog is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be comprehensive, and is not a substitute for and should not be construed as legal advice. HireRight does not warrant any statements in the HireRight Blog. Any statutes or laws cited herein should be read in their entirety. You should direct to your own experienced legal counsel questions involving your organization’s compliance with or interpretation or application of laws or regulations and any additional legal requirements that may apply.