In Part 1 we discussed the medications that will always result in driver disqualification. But far more often a driver is disqualified for taking a medication that is NOT an absolute disqualifier.
(If you’re not sure whether you’re medication is an “absolute disqualifier”, read [Part 1] of this blog series.)
A medical examiner must obtain clearance from the prescribing provider for drivers taking amphetamines, narcotics (mostly opioids) or others with a high risk of abuse. Depending on the circumstances, the prescribing provider may not want to provide clearance. When this occurs, there are two options.
One option is for the driver to work with their provider to change medications. There needs to be time for the new medication to take effect and to insure the medication is effective at the proper dosage which delays the driver from getting back on the road. But, as long as the new medication properly treats the condition, the driver may be medically certified.
The second choice is for the driver to find a new medical provider. It’s common for the new provider to give clearance for the current medication, as prescribed, once they obtain a medical history showing treatment effectiveness. This too might create a delay in obtaining a medical certificate but it could be well worth the effort.
It’s always good practice for a driver to call their medical examiner prior to their appointment to ask whether the examiner has concerns with providing medical clearance for the medication being taken.
One thing many medical examiners do not understand is that prior to disqualifying the driver, their determination for driver certification should performed on a case-by-case bases (unless the medication being taken is an “absolute” disqualifier). This step greatly increases the driver’s chances to continue driving.
TeamCME proposes a 4-step process for this case-by-case evaluation:
- The first step is for the medical examiner to get clearance from the prescribing provider. This applies to any medication where FMCSA guidelines suggest caution or disqualification.
- The next step is for the driver to sign a statement stating they are not having side effects from the medication while driving.
- Last of all, the medical examiner reviews the medications’ classification, intended effects, side effects, half-life, relative dosage, when taken, and how long the driver has been taking that medication.
- Then the decision whether to certify the driver is made.
Because medical examiners are not equal in their knowledge and attitude towards helping drivers, a driver who has been disqualified might find it beneficial to look for a medical examiner who knows how to “steer” drivers thru the medical examination process.
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