No U.S. DOT medical exams until March 31, medical group tells doctors

OTTAWA (Jan. 6) — The Canadian Medical Protective Association is standing by its recommendation that doctors not complete paperwork required by the U.S. Dept. of Transportation for physical examinations of Canadian truck drivers operating in the United States until after March 31, when a reciprocity agreement between the two countries takes effect.

The CMPA, which provides legal assistance for more than 56,000 medical professionals in Canada, said the agreement does not sufficiently reduce the risk of medical liability for Canadian doctors during the 90-day waiting period following the official exchange of letters.

“Doctors still have to sign the U.S. forms,” said CMPA spokesperson Francoise Parent. “Our advice to our members is as valid today as it was in September: don’t sign the U.S. paperwork. Hold off until the 31st of March.”

In late September, the CMPA warned doctors that because DOT medical forms constitute U.S. legal documents, a person injured in the U.S. by a Canadian driver could 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.

As a result, many family doctors have refused to conduct medical exams for drivers operating in the U.S., leaving drivers to seek out alternatives, including exams by American doctors. Currently, all Canadian truck drivers must receive a medical examination every two years and carry a certificate specified by the U.S. DOT as a precondition for entry into the U.S.

“It’s unfortunate for drivers, who are caught in the middle of this,” Parent said. “But until March 31, the situation is unchanged as far as we’re concerned.”

In October, several Canadian transport officials said the CMPA had indicated it would rescind its recommendation during the 90-day period following a reciprocal agreement, allowing doctors to resume performing medical exams immediately. The CMPA maintained that it wanted to see the final agreement before making a decision, however.

Canada and the U.S. completed an exchange of letters of agreement on Dec. 30, agreeing to recognize one another’s rules regarding medical qualifications for truck drivers. The two countries will use the 90-day waiting period to notify affected parties of the new rules.

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