Doctors continue to balk at driver medicals

OTTAWA — The Canadian Medical Protective Association has no intention of rescinding a recommendation that doctors not complete driver medical forms required by the U.S. Dept. of Transportation even though U.S federal motor carrier safety rules do not require doctors to use an official DOT medical form.

U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations do not require doctors to use Form 12, the government-issued medical examiner’s certificate. A generic, equivalent form would be acceptable, the DOT has told Transport Canada.

However, the CMPA, an Ottawa-based legal defence group representing 57,000 doctors in Canada, objects to the certificate of fitness issued by the DOT after the medical paperwork has been approved. “The certificate constitutes a U.S. legal document, and that does not diminish or erase the liability concerns we have,” said CMPA associate secretary-treasurer Dr. Guy Lemay.

The CMPA has maintained that completing paperwork issued by the DOT would increase the doctor’s exposure to legal liability. DOT medical forms constitute U.S. legal documents, the group said, opening the door for a person injured in the U.S. by a Canadian driver to sue the doctor should the driver’s medical condition at the time be called into question. The CMPA does not protect members for work performed on behalf of jurisdictions outside Canada.

The CMPA said a reciprocity agreement between the U.S. and Canada on driver medical qualifications does not sufficiently reduce the risk of medical liability for Canadian doctors until March 31, when a 90-day waiting period following the official Dec. 30 date of the agreement expires.

The Canadian Trucking Alliance said it would make available through its provincial affiliates the names of doctors who have continued to conduct medical examinations of Canadian truck drivers.

The association said it would also provide truck fleets with copies of the official letters of agreement exchanged between the U.S. and Canada outlining the terms of reciprocity, as well as a letter from Transport Canada director of road safety programs Derek Sweet to the FHWA describing the difficulty drivers are having complying with current U.S. medical fitness rules.

“A driver could carry these letters with him in his glove compartment, and should he be stopped by U.S. enforcement officials, they could help illustrate the degree of the problem,” said CTA vice-president Graham Cooper.

He acknowledged that “there is no guarantee” that enforcement would be relaxed as a result, “but at the very least these documents would show communication between the two governments at very high levels.”

Provincial trucking association contacts:

British Columbia Trucking Association, 604/942-3200; Alberta Trucking Association, 403/243-3767; Saskatchewan Trucking Association, 306/569-9696; Manitoba Trucking Association, 204/632-6600; Ontario Trucking Association, 416/249-7401; Quebec Trucking Association, 514/932-0377; Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association, 506/855-2782.

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