FMCSA Plans to Remove 15,000 Medical Examiner Certifications
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Federal trucking regulators plan to disqualify more than 15,000 physicians responsible for certifying that truck drivers are healthy enough to get behind the wheel.
Some of the physicians may have just been inactive in maintaining their account in the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners, a group of physicians who perform physical qualification examinations of interstate commercial motor vehicle drivers. Others may need to get registered and receive updated refresher medical training, according to a Jan. 24 Federal Register announcement made by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
“FMCSA proposes to remove medical examiners from its National Registry who have failed to access their National Registry account using login.gov and have failed to update the profile information in their National Registry account as required,” the announcement said. “There are approximately 15,727 medical examiners who have not accessed their National Registry account using login.gov, and as a result, are not able to fulfill regulatory requirements, such as reporting results of physical qualification examinations performed on commercial motor vehicle drivers, receiving FMCSA communications and completing required training.”
Those examiners who fail to make the required account updates by Feb. 26 will have their names removed from the registry.
FMCSA said its staff made repeated attempts to contact the inactive examiners through phone calls and/or letters sent by U.S. mail. When those efforts also were unsuccessful, the agency made attempts as recently as June 2023 to contact medical examiner administrative assistants and third-party organizations designated by the MEs proposed for removal to obtain current contact information for these MEs. The MEs proposed for removal have not responded to FMCSA’s attempts to contact them and have failed to access their registry account using login.gov, the agency said.
FMCSA said there are 92,625 MEs listed on the registry who have been certified by FMCSA to conduct physical qualification examinations. About 76,898 of these MEs are accessing their registry account using login.gov, and 38,707 of these MEs are actively performing physical qualification examinations and reporting results to the registry.
“To date, FMCSA has not received any complaints from CMV drivers indicating difficulties in locating MEs and scheduling appointments for their physical qualification examinations,” the agency wrote. “In addition, the agency continues to monitor the geographic distribution of MEs to identify potential challenges for drivers in locating MEs.
“Therefore, FMCSA does not anticipate any concerns that there are too few MEs to meet the demand for physical qualification examinations, and the possible removal of approximately 15,727 MEs, as proposed in this notice, will not have any impact on the availability of certified MEs to perform physical qualification examinations of CMV drivers.”
“They just needed to get extra training and log in to the website,” said Brian Morris, a member of FMCSA’s medical review board. “It doesn’t seem like a big deal to me. Once they get the training, they will be reinstated, or they can get the training before they get removed.”
Morris added: “The security for the website is very important, and the government has a program for all the agencies to tighten up security. The Department of Transportation has to comply as well as other agencies.”
Officials have spent years redesigning the website ever since the agency identified technology-related challenges in late 2017.
In April 2021, FMCSA acknowledged that since the registry final rule was issued in 2015, ongoing hurdles had been associated with launching the website.
Today, FMCSA released an updated Medical Examiner’s Handbook for DOT exams for commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers. The updated guidance improves consistency of medical exams and supports safe driving of CMVs. Get the handbook on our website: https://t.co/01pg1pJ899 pic.twitter.com/dBGU1ePPrz — FMCSA (@FMCSA) January 22, 2024
“Among those challenges was an unsuccessful attempt by an intruder to compromise the National Registry website in December 2017,” the proposal said. “Although no personal information was exposed, FMCSA took the National Registry system offline until mid-2018 to ensure it was secure.”
The agency said the challenges to the website ended in 2023, after a nearly a four-year rebuild.
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