Medical Examiner Fraud and DOT Response

Medical Examiner Fraud

Earlier this year, the FMCSA began an audit of medical examiners on their National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners. Launched in 2014, the registry made available a list of physicians certified to perform full medical examinations for truck drivers and issue valid medical cards in order to meet DOT requirements. Find out the DOT response to medical examiner fraud.

Medical Examiner Fraud and DOT Response

The list was compiled to make it more convenient for drivers who have to find their own certified physicians, and for trucking companies and safety managers who assign physicians to their drivers. But, they found the list wasn’t perfect. And this was causing inconvenience to thousands of drivers and their companies.

The Medical Examiner Fallout

Medical examiners who do DOT physicals for trucking have to be registered with DOT. This is to make sure doctors follow a consistent procedure, and that all drivers receive equivalent exams. Drivers who pass the exam receive medical cards. Drivers can only drive if they carry a valid medical card. 

DOT’s decision to audit came when they discovered that over 6,000 drivers have had to retake medical exams and renew their certificates in the past five years because they were issued by an examiner suspected or convicted of fraud. 

The fraudulent actions included:

  • • Uploading bogus exam results to the FMCSA website
  • • Conducting driver exams without proper certification
  • • Awarding certificates without completing a full exam 

The Cost of Fraud

Though drivers and trucking companies aren’t liable to fees or penalties for having these fraudulent certificates, they do cost money in terms of money spent on the exams, and time spent waiting for a new exam. This is the time that otherwise could be spent on the road. Drivers cannot haul freight while carrying a fraudulent certificate. 

Other drawbacks include the inconvenience of finding a new doctor and the breach of trust with a medical professional who has given a personal medical exam.

There’s another problem as well. Even though it’s not likely a trucking company’s fault for being tricked by a fraudulent medical examiner, it can still create a problem of trust between a driver and the company. For companies who assign or recommend doctors, their drivers have to trust that they are passing on accurate information. If drivers perceive you’ve wasted their time, or that you’re not informed enough to know false examiners from certified, they may lose faith in your company. 

What DOT Can and Can’t Do

DOT requires medical examiners to complete training and a test before becoming certified and listed in the FMCSA registry. By June 2021, DOT anticipates combining medical certificates with CDLs, so that the FMCSA database will show whether a driver’s certificate is valid. DOT is also looking into FMCSA’s process for approving and including physicians on their registry. Finally, DOT will continue to investigate fraud and clean the FMCSA’s list. But best practice, for now, is that you ensure your medical examiners are registered.

Fraud and resulting audits are an ongoing issue. It’s up to you to make absolutely sure whoever you’re using for your drivers’ physicals is DOT certified. In other words, there are still fakes out there. Use the national registry as your first and foremost guide. But if you don’t personally check to make “dang sure” your chosen doctors are legit, there’s no guarantee anyone else will. 

What You Can Do to Hedge Your Bets

There are a few steps you might consider taking to reduce your chances of being a victim of medical examiner fraud.

Stick with the doctors you know
Personally knowing someone who’s on the FMCSA list doesn’t always guarantee they’re sticking to the rules, but it can help your chances, especially if you’ve known them to be on the up and up for years. 

Make contact with your doctors
Consider personally calling the recommended doctors on your list to thank them for their service to trucking companies. Let them know you’re wanting to improve your safety culture and practices and ask whether they might be willing to fax or email a copy of their DOT certification for your records. 

Provide a list of vetted doctors
Give drivers a list of 100% certified medical examiners that you recommend. (And of course, make sure it dovetails with FMCSA’s list.) This list is a great resource, not only for employees but for contractors as well. It makes the process of finding an examiner faster and more convenient and removes the chance that your or your drivers’ time and money will be wasted with a bogus exam. It also looks professional and builds trust. (See a tip for uploading this list below.)

Reimburse drivers
If any of your drivers have been the victim of medical examiner fraud, consider reimbursing them in some way. Strongly consider this especially if you assigned or recommended fraudulent medical examiners. This is also an incredibly professional move and a trust-builder.

Make the most of your online training system
Infinit-I Workforce Solutions provides an online Resource Area to upload important information for drivers so that anything urgent stays right at their fingertips. Here, you can upload a vetted list of certified medical examiners, as well as other shareable information, such as a downloadable copy of medical benefits. Personal information such as medical cards can be uploaded on a driver-to-driver basis. 

Each driver has a different resource area — customized, like “cubby holes” — containing custom content for the individual user. A client success rep will help you strategize which information to include and upload the desired content for you. 

Request a live demo of Infinit-I Workforce Solutions today, and find out how you can customize available tools to make the most of online training, protect your business, and keep the trust of your drivers.