DOT Physical and the Pending Determination

DOT Physical and the “Pending Determination”

 I was given a pending  determination, why do I have to pay another fee? 

  • The driver will have to pay for more than one examination if the “Determination Pending” category is used. The minimum fee is $25 up to $59 depending on circumstances. It is the responsibility of the driver to be examined by a certified Medical Examiner (ME) listed on the National Registry for a determination to be made as to whether or not the driver is physically qualified to operate a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) in interstate commerce.

 A second examination for determination pending is no different from a driver needing a second examination because he/she was medically unqualified or received a Medical Examination Certificate (MEC), Form, MCSA-5876 (commonly referred to as a “medical card”) that is only valid for a short period of time such as a 3-month Medical Examination Certificate (MEC), Form MCSA-5876. In those instances, the driver would still need to go back to the ME for a qualification determination and pay accordingly for the determination.

  • A common example of a using a “Pending Determination” would be the diabetic that forgot to bring RECENT A1c lab results to their exam, but can bring the results in within a few days.  Use of the pending determination instead of disqualifying the driver is at the sole discretion of the Medical Examiner.

Does a second medical examination need to be completed when the driver returns within the “Determination Pending” timeframe issued by the Medical Examiner?

  • The decision as to whether or not to conduct a second FULL medical examination when the driver returns within the determination pending timeframe is up to the discretion of the Medical Examiner (ME) and would depend on whether or not another examination is needed to determine whether or not the driver is physically qualified to operate a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) in interstate commerce.

 Can the Medical Examiner provide a driver with a grace period in which the driver’s physical examination is placed on hold?

  • NO, the regulations do not allow for a grace period. However, the “Determination Pending” category may be used if the ME examines a driver and needs more information to make a qualification decision. Using this category provides the Medical Examiner (ME) with up to 45 days to collect the information needed to make a qualification decision.

When “Determination Pending” is selected, does the ME issue a Medical Examination Certificate (MEC), Form MCSA-5876 for up to or including 45 days?

  • NO, the determination pending category is only to be used while waiting for additional information to make a qualification determination. If the driver has a current Medical Examination Certificate (MEC), Form MCSA-5876, the driver may continue to operate; if not, the driver is not authorized to operate a CMV in interstate commerce.

Does the Medical Examiner have to give me 45 days to resolve the “Determination Pending” status?

  • NO, giving a “Determination Pending” status is at the sole discretion of the Medical Examiner (ME) and the length of time the Medical Examiner (ME) designates to resolve the pending status is at their SOLE DISCRETION. A few days to one week are the most common deadlines issued to resolve a “Determination Pending” status.
  • A “Determination Pending” status is courtesy that the Medical Examiner (ME) may at their sole discretion use while waiting for additional information to make a qualification determination. The most common example is A1c lab results needed for a driver taking diabetes medication and/or has sugar in their urine. If the Medical Examiner (ME) has doubts that the driver can quickly provide the information needed to resolve the “Determination Pending” status, then the ME should disqualify the driver.

Does a “Determination Pending” status extend a medical card beyond its current expiration date?

  • NO, “Determination Pending” status will NOT extend a medical card beyond its current expiration date. During a pending determination the driver may use the rest of the time that’s left on the current medical card. The examiner has the option of placing the driver in “up to a 45 day pending” determination. This will allow the driver to get more documentation, test results, or any items the Medical Examiner (ME) needs in order to make a determination that the driver is physically compliant with FMCSA regulations to drive a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) in interstate commerce

 What happens if I don’t resolve the “Determination Pending” status per the Medical Examiner’s (ME’s) instructions?

  • If the driver does not provide the Medical Examiner (ME) with the information to resolve the ‘Pending Determination” in the time frame issued by the ME, then the driver will be disqualified. A driver cannot be certified as medically qualified or receive a Medical Examination Certificate (MEC), Form, MCSA-5876 unless all required information is received in the time frame determined by the Medical Examiner (ME). This is a safety issue and the Medical Examiner (ME) should immediately determine that the driver is medically unqualified and report this to FMCSA at any time the ME feels that the driver is not earnestly trying to provide the required information to resolve the “Determination Pending” status.
  • Drivers assigned a “Determination Pending” status need to do the following:
  1. Provide all requested information to the Medical Examiner (ME)
  2. Return for a follow up visit within the time period determined by the Medical Examiner (45-days is the maximum allowable by FMCSA regulations)
  3. Pay the Medical Examiner (ME) for evaluating the information (Example: lab results, notes from PCP, notes from specialist, etc).
  • If a “Determination Pending” is not completed within the time period determined by the Medical Examiner (45-days maximum) due to lack of information or expiration of current medical certificate, then the initial exam is invalidated by the FMCSA and a new exam will be required for certification.

How can a driver avoid a “Determination Pending” status or being disqualified on the DOT physical?

  • Any driver with a chronic medical condition (such as diabetes, sleep apnea, heart disease, lung disease, history of blood clots or any other condition treated by the primary care physician or specialist) should present with their provider’s recent office visit notes, lab results and studies at the time of the DOT physical exam.  It is the driver’s responsibility to provide medical records about their chronic medical condition at the time of examination.  If you have a chronic medical condition and are unsure of what is required at the DOT physical exam, then call the Medical Examiner’s office PRIOR to your exam.  The Medical Examiner (ME) would prefer to have all the necessary medical information needed to make the most accurate determination AT THE TIME OF EXAM.  This is better for all concerned and reduces potential delays and/or driver upsets.

Is the Medical Examiner required to use the determination pending if the driver’s Medical Examination Certificate (MEC), Form MCSA-5876 expires in two days?

  • The Medical Examiner (ME) is NEVER required to use the determination pending category. Use of this category is discretionary. If a ME chooses to use the determination pending category and the driver has time left on his/her current Medical Examination Certificate (MEC), Form MCSA-5876, the driver may continue driving until the driver’s Medical Examination Certificate (MEC), Form MCSA-5876 expires, the ME makes a final qualification determination, or the up to 45 days in determination pending status expires.
  • If the ME examines the driver and the condition is something that the ME feels is disqualifying, the ME should NOT use the determination pending category. Instead, the ME should disqualify the driver.
  • If the ME determines the driver is safe to operate a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) in interstate commerce based on the initial examination and the driver’s Medical Examination Certificate (MEC), Form MCSA-5876 will expire shortly after the initial examination, the ME may issue a short-term Medical Examination Certificate (MEC), Form MCSA-5876 rather than using the determination pending category. However, the driver will need to have a FULL examination before a short-term Medical Examination Certificate (MEC), Form MCSA-5876 expires.

Is a temporary medical card the same as a “Determination Pending”?

  • No, Temporary medical cards (or short term medical cards) can be issued for 1-month or 3-months to drivers who have a pre-existing or newly diagnosed medical condition. For example, a driver who presents with elevated blood pressure after multiple checks could be issued a temporary card. When the driver returns for clearance beyond the 1-month or 3-month card, a completely new exam is required by the FMCSA regulations. If there are no further issues, the driver’s medical card will be extended to the maximum timeframe allowed for that specific medical condition. The driver would need to pay accordingly for any needed exam.

How should the incomplete examination result be used?

  • Incomplete Examination allows the Medical Examiner (ME) to submit examination results for a driver whose medical evaluation was not completed. This includes a driver that may have decided during the examination that he/she did not want to continue the examination and leaves the Medical Examiner’s office. Submitting this type of examination result alerts FMCSA to the possibility of a driver visiting more than one ME to receive a specific desired examination result.

What are the repercussions to a driver who starts an examination with one Medical Examiner, does not complete his/her examination, and then goes to a second Medical Examiner for a second certification examination?

  • The National Registry will have the capability to flag such exams, identify missing or false information reported by the driver in the Driver Health History section of the MER Form, MCSA-5875, and make a determination to void the driver’s MEC, Form MCSA-5876, if appropriate.

How can a commercial driver prevent suspension of their Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) due to expired medical card?

  • Drivers should schedule their exam 45-60 days prior to the expiration date of the medical card. This will help facilitate the process and may expedite their certification. It also gives time for the driver to provide additional medical information that the driver may not be aware of that is required until the examination happens. A  driver’s health can change and certain changes may not be detected until the time of exam.  Don’t let your commercial driver’s license (CDL) get suspended, because you waited until a few days before your current medical card is set to expire and unforeseen medical information is required to determine that the driver is physically qualified to operate a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) in interstate commerce

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