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3 Simple Steps to your DOT Physical Exam
The event of your physical exam can be simplified into 3 steps.
1. Make an appointment
Scheduling an appointment in advance will maximize your time. This will prevent unnecessary waiting and ensure that a qualified physician will be ready for you when you get there.
2. Take physical exam
This will include a thorough review of your medical health history and will test your current health condition. You will also need to provide a urine sample.
3. We take care of the rest
This is really for us to fill in the Medical Examination Report for Commercial Driver Fitness Determination and any supporting paperwork, including the DOT physical itself.
Be sure to bring with you anything that will make the examination process go smoother, such as your glasses if you need then for driving and a list of any medications you take. A copy of a prescription that shows the dosage amount may be helpful. Also be aware that there may be out-of-pocket expenses for the exam, which is not covered by insurance. Check to see if your employer will cover the exam costs.
Frequently Asked Questions
New FMCSA regulations and what they mean for you
Reasons for change in FMCSA regulations
Drivers of commercial motor vehicles spend many hours on the road, sometimes in harsh weather and less than ideal road conditions, to say nothing of delays due to congestion. Out of concern for drivers’ health and safety, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has amended certain Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations. The new provisions take into consideration the constant challenges commercial drivers face on the road, which can have both a physical and emotional toll on the body, and are designed to improve drivers’ overall well-being. Under the new regulations, medical examiners who conduct physicals for DOT must meet the following additional requirements:
1) Complete training and certification in FMCSA standards; and
2) Submit results from the physicals to the FMCSA on a monthly basis.
Explanation of the meaning and purpose of DOT physicals
DOT physicals are technically called “Department of Transportation Medical Examinations.” They are mandated by federal law. Every commercial vehicle driver must undergo a routine physical exam by a trained medical examiner in order to ensure that the driver is physically and emotionally fit for the job. The medical examiners must look for and identify any problems, mental or physical, that can render drivers unable to safely perform the demanding tasks assigned to them. They must keep in mind that their determination can affect not just the safety of the drivers they examine but others on the road. By the same token, the examiners need to have a clear understanding of the regulations and be careful not to unjustly disqualify drivers.
How can Best DOT Exam help you?
We are a patient-oriented organization with a special focus on occupational safety. Among the services we provide are DOT physicals. We use only the most qualified medical examiners to perform DOT physicals, all of whom are certified by the Board of Medicine as well as by the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners, or NRCME. They are committed to staying apprised of the current medical advancements, breakthroughs, new technologies, problems and solutions.
How the new regulations will affect you as a commercial vehicle driver?
Our qualified physicians will go over your medical history and current health in detail when they perform the DOT physical, including any indications of the following:
• Head or brain injuries
• Lung diseases
• Liver disease
• Heart disease or recent heart surgery
• Muscular disease
• Blood pressure abnormalities
• Vision impairments
• Hearing impairments
• Digestive disorders
• Breathing problems
• Use of medications
You cannot pass the physical if there are any medical problems that can compromise your safety or the safety of others on the road. We have to make sure you meet all the necessary health criteria and are in the right physical and mental shape for such a demanding job.
Understanding your prescription medications
When you are prescribed medication by your doctor, it is absolutely vital that you read all of the instructions for taking the medication and are familiar with any and all of the possible side effects. Talk to your doctor, explain that you are a commercial vehicle driver and ask whether the medication could have any negative effect on your ability to perform your driving duties. You should, at the very minimum, understand the following basic information:
1) What the medication is for;
2) What the recommended dosage is;
3) When the medication should be taken (specific time of day, specific number of hours apart, etc.);
4) How the medication should be taken (by mouth, with food, etc.)
5) What the possible side effects are (such as dizziness, blurred vision, etc.); and
6) What interactions the medication may have with certain food or drinks (such as alcohol).
As a commercial vehicle driver, you need be watch out for side effects like lightheadedness. If this is one of the side effects, you will probably want to avoid the medication while driving any vehicle, much less a large truck. You also want to make sure you know when how long after taking the medication the side effects kick in and how long they last. Some medications come with specific warnings instructing you not to operate any vehicle while taking that particular medication.
When you get your prescription, be sure to read the label carefully and have a complete understanding of what it all means. Check to see that the label correctly identifies you by your name and address. Also check that it is, in fact, your doctor who prescribed the medication. You do not want to pick up someone else’s medication by accident, which can lead to a host of terrible problems.
Interactions with other medications
Whenever your doctor prescribes any medication, you have to make sure you disclose to the doctor all other medications or supplements you are taking at that time. This includes, but is not limited to, over the counter pain medication, herbal supplements, sleep aids and other prescription medications. A combination of medications can increase or decrease the potency of each individual medication. There can also be serious negative side effects from the combination that neither medication has on its own, such as headaches, excessive stimulation of the central nervous system, increased heart rate or shaking.
How you can determine what reaction your medication will have with other medications and supplements you are taking
1. Talk to your doctor. Advise your doctor of everything you are taking and ask what kind of reaction the prescription medication may elicit when combined with the others. Full disclosure is required in order for your doctor to respond intelligently and provide you with the most accurate information.
2. Do your own research. This doesn’t just mean going online. It also means reading labels carefully. Some labels caution you against combining certain medications with other drugs.
Never share your medication with anyone else
This point cannot be emphasized enough. You should never share even your over the counter medication, much less a prescription medication intended specifically for you and your particular medical condition. Another person may have a severely negative reaction to something that you might require for normal day to day function.
Here are five reasons why you should keep you medications to yourself:
1. Reactions vary between individuals. A medicine that may work great for you may have a completely opposite effect on someone else, even a close family member. Each medication affects individuals differently. Those very rare side effects may not be an issue for you but may manifest with a vengeance in someone else. In addition, someone else may have a severe allergic reaction to one of the ingredients in the medication. This can be very dangerous and, in the worst case scenario, fatal.
2. Similar symptoms may mean different problems. Just because someone has the same or similar symptoms as you does not mean that individual has the same exact problem as you. Many different medical conditions have common symptoms. The medication you take can actually make the other person’s problem worse, especially if they rely on your medication in lieu of seeking professional advice from a doctor. The only person who can diagnose a problem is a doctor. Otherwise, you risk not only the other person’s health but potential legal problems for yourself.
3. Different body chemistry. Your body may process medications differently than someone else’s body. Everybody is unique, including in the way they handle medication. Even if other people have the same medical condition as you, they may need a smaller dose of a specific medication because their bodies do no digest it as quickly as you do or flush it out as efficiently as you. Furthermore, their body chemistry might trigger a side effect, such as excessive sweating, that is never an issue for you. This individuality is why some people need 2 sleeping pills while others can be fast asleep after taking just one. What helps you may be detrimental to someone else.
4. Unique medical history and health profile. The other person may take other medications that you know nothing about. Even if you do know what medications they take, you do not know how their medication may react with your medication, even if your “medication” is a diet or health supplement. It could be extremely dangerous to the other person and, once again, even fatal.
5. Addiction. Finally, many medications are habit forming if not closely supervised by a physician. The other person may eventually become addicted to your medication, which can cause long term problems. The person may have to undergo an extensive detoxification process. Even if the medication itself is not particularly addictive, the person you are giving it to may have an addictive personality. Because of how the medication makes them feel, which may be very different from how the medication makes you feel, they may become addicted to it. There is also the chance that the other person already had an addiction to your medication and is using you to get more of what they could not otherwise get through legitimate means. This can cause serious liver and kidney damage.
What are Driver Exemption Programs?
If you suffer from diabetes or have impaired vision, you may qualify for an exemption under the Federal Diabetes and Vision Exemption Programs. The exemptions are outlined in Sections 391.41(b)(3)and 391.41(b)(10). If you apply for one of the exemptions, your application must be accompanied by the following additional documents:
-History of employment
-Motor vehicle records
-Medical exam results
A decision regarding your exemption status will be made no more than 180 days following receipt of your application and all of the required supporting documents.
Please note that the exemption programs apply only to drivers who drive commercial motor vehicles involved in interstate commerce within the United States, which includes the 50 states and the District of Columbia. There are no federal exemptions or other relief programs available if your driving is limited to intrastate commerce. Before you apply for the exemption program, therefore, make sure you qualify based on your driving borders.
How to find us
For your appointment, please bring your Driver’s license, current certificate and any exemption(s) you may have. For faster service, please make an appointment before you visit an office. In nearly all cases, your DOT medical exam will be completed in 20-30 minutes.