CDL health exam regulations have changed

This year, rules changed for interstate commercial vehicle drivers’ medical certificates, which have caused some confusion for local drivers.

Any commercial driver whose current medical certificate expires after May 21, 2014 must be examined by a medical professional that has completed training and successfully passed a test to become listed on the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Pocahontas Memorial Hospital recently issued a fact sheet with more information about the new regulations.

Physician Assistant Valarie Monico at Pocahontas Memorial Hospital Rural Health Clinic said the rules may require additional time for renewals and asks that drivers make their health appointments with as much advanced notice as possible, ideally two to four weeks prior to license expiration.

“The bad news is that it is a lengthier process, so we’re all learning, we’re all learning the new guidelines and the handbook that we have is 100s of pages long, so when we have a question, it takes a little bit more time for us to get an answer to that question.

“If you don’t come in well in advanced to your expiration for the CDL, we may not have enough time to get it approved before your current certification expires,” Monico said.

Previously, interstate commercial vehicle drivers could get a valid medical certificate from just any healthcare provider.

Three doctors in Pocahontas County are certified medical examiners: Dr. John Eilers of Deer Creek Clinic in Green Bank and Big Springs Clinic in Slatyfork, Dr. Neal Rehberg of Pocahontas Memorial Hospital, and Valarie Monico of Pocahontas Memorial Hospital Rural Health Clinic.

Also, regulations for monitoring chronic conditions have changed.

“In the past, even if their blood pressure was controlled and they had been treated with blood pressure medications, if their blood pressure was normal at the time of their exam, they got their two year exam, and they changed that in the new guidelines, and now you may only receive a one year certification depending on how severe your blood pressure is elevated. Even if it’s controlled, even if you’re on medication and your blood pressure is normal at the time of the exam.

“So that’s been a little confusing for some folks, us included, and we’ve had to call, and any time we have a discrepancy or we have a question we always call to make sure we get the definitive answer just to make sure we’re doing it the right way,” Monico said.

Federal Motor Carrier rules require that drivers carry an updated medical certificate.

“The main idea is safety. None of the new regulations are there to punish anybody. They’re there to make sure everybody’s safe. Chronic conditions can cause problems with driving, so we just need to make sure that they’re regulated and re-checked when they’re recommended to be re-checked and to make sure that the driver is safe and keeps him or herself and everybody else on the road safe,” Monico said.

Story By

Kelly Taber

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