FMCSA’s medical certification program under audit by DOT

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Spurred by a wake of criminal charges against medical examiners who have fraudulently issued DOT medical certificates to truck operators, the U.S. DOT’s Office of Inspector General announced Wednesday it is opening an audit to evaluate the DOT medical certification program. Of focus in the audit is the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners, implemented by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in 2014.

Since the August 2014 onset of the National Registry, there have been eight indictments and six convictions against medical examiners who have issued fraudulent certificates to drivers. In most cases, the examiner was issuing certificates without performing a full exam and, in some cases, the examiners uploaded fake exam results to FMCSA.

On a few instances, FMCSA had to issue a notice that required hundreds of drivers to renew their medical certifications within 30 days, even though they hadn’t expired, due to circumstances surrounding alleged fraud of a medical examiner. In one occasion, more than 6,000 drivers had to immediately renew their medical certificate.

Part of a multi-part overhaul of the driver medical certification process, the National Registry rule requires drivers to obtain their medical certificate from an FMCSA-approved examiner. Examiners must complete required training and pass a test to be listed in the registry. Ultimately, medical certificates will be combined with drivers CDLs, with states tapping into FMCSA’s database to know whether a driver’s medical certificate is current and valid. That portion of the overhaul has been delayed and is now slated to take effect in June 2021.

Slim on details so far, the DOT OIG’s audit is planned to begin immediately, the OIG said its Wednesday notice to FMCSA. The OIG will evaluate FMCSA’s oversight of the medical certification process and its protocol for verifying the information within the National Registry.