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Come May It’s a Brave New World For DOT Medical Examiners

This is a follow-up post about those cadets and their swift actions to prevent what could have been a disaster on I-95 back on February 9, 2014.  We will also now find out the outcome of the FMCSA investigation of the bus driver involved in this near-accident.  I really didn’t expect to follow-up on the post.  I was content to commend those cadets and to hope for the best outcome for the driver involved.  However, this story raised other issues with me regarding commercial driver medical examinations, specifically our liability as certified medical examiners.  I wonder if others out there are having similar thoughts or concerns.  I have already advised my insurance carrier that I perform these type of physical examinations.  Have you?

If you haven’t read the story yet click on brave cadets link or just click on the following link after the first update for a re-cap and a continuation of the development of the story.  When we look at the whole story as reported, we are reminded of the difficulty in determining causation in accidents or near-accidents (as it was in this case).

Update #1:  An imminent hazard or out of service order was issued by the FMCSA against the driver on March 10, 2014.  It was thought that the driver failed to disclose medical information in 2013 to his medical examiner regarding episodes of dizziness and fainting spells that he experienced between 2010-2012:

Later update: The imminent hazard or out of service issued on March 10, 2014 was later rescinded on March 26, 2014, when it was later reported by the FMCSA that a seizure caused by a previously undiagnosed medical condition was the cause of the loss of consciousness in the driver that nearly led to the crash on February 9, 2014.

In the first update that discussed the FMCSA out of service order, there is fairly good mention of the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners (NRCME).  Clearly as certified medical examiners we may now be thrusted to the forefront in some accident cases, especially high-profile ones, but certainly in those where medical issues were found to be at cause.   This can be due for example, to undisclosed medical conditions on the part of the driver, previously undiagnosed medical conditions (as reported in this case) or medical examiner error in certification.  With greater responsibility as they say, comes greater accountability.    Accountability to the Department of Transportation, the FMCSA,  and being drawn into lawsuits from either side of an accident case.  This is indeed a Brave New World for Medical Examiners.  Are you ready?