Certified medical examiners for the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA) are advising screenings on sleep apnea, but truckers should know that this advice is not an order, and not required by regulation.
Medical examiners in FMCSA’s National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners will soon be receiving a bulletin from the agency to clarify the distinction from FMCSA Administrator Scott Darling. As reported by James Jaillet in trucking trade publication Overdrive, the bulletin will “remind examiners there is no FMCSA guidance regarding apnea testing — hammered home by a 2013 law — and will encourage examiners to explain to drivers that referring them to sleep apnea specialists is being done based on their judgment as medical professionals and not from FMCSA regulations.”
According to Jaillet, the letter was sent to Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-La) and Rep. Daniel Lipinski (D-Ill) in response to a letter from the two Congressmen to Darling in October. “Bucshon and Lipinski sent their letter after they heard that FMCSA-approved medical examiners were not adhering to the 2013 law prohibiting the agency from issuing guidance (in lieu of a formal rule) regarding sleep apnea screening and testing for truck drivers,” writes Jaillet. “They blamed some organizations responsible for training the medical examiners to perform driver physicals for the apparent sidestep of the Congressional order.”
Darling also said the agency plans to publish a notice this year that will request information from industry stakeholders to help the agency determine the costs and safety benefits of a rule to address sleep apnea screening.