Fail a DOT Physical? You Have a Right to a Second Opinion
If it hasn’t happened to you, then it’s probably happened to someone you know: a truck driver goes in for a DOT physical expecting to pass and get an updated medical certificate. But during the appointment something goes wrong – and the doctor finds something that they think is a problem.
What started as a routine visit has now compromised the future of the driver’s career – and left them thinking: what happens next?
Even if you think you’re healthy and don’t have anything to worry about, the DOT physical process can be a stressful time for truck drivers. During the appointment, your livelihood is in the hands of a medical examiner who will go through a prescribed list of questions, tests and exams to see whether they believe you are fit to drive. While some of these decisions are cut and dry, others are more objective. As such, the overall outcome of the exam can vary depending on the examiner you see – and their interpretation of the FMCSA regulations.
What the Regulation Says
If you read through the full regulation, there isn’t actually any language that talks to the rights of a driver when their medical card isn’t renewed. Because there have been so many questions about this issue, the FMCSA provided additional clarification around this issue last year. Specifically, they told drivers what most were hoping was true all along: that they were able to get a second opinion if they fail their DOT physical exam.
If you are going to get a second opinion, however, you must provide the new medical examiner with a full and honest medical history – you can’t leave out information because it caused you to fail the first time around. And if you fail a second time? You can’t keep going for exams in hopes that you’ll find an examiner to pass you. This is an illegal practice that is considered “doctor shopping.”
Because medical examiners are required to report the results of each DOT physical to the FMCSA, the agency will be able to see how many doctors a driver visited, and the information they provided to each. As long as the information on the long form matches, and the driver stopped at getting a second opinion, the medical card issued by the second examiner will be considered valid.