- Part 1 [You Are HERE] – Can A DOT Medical Examiner Refuse You A Medical Card Unless You Have A Sleep Study Done?
- Part 2 – DOT Physical And Sleep Apnea Testing: Are Medical Examiners Caught Between A Rock And A Hard Place?
- Part 3 – Commercial Driver Awareness About The Sleep Apnea Issue
- Part 4 – OSA: How To Know If You Have It
- Part 5 – Commercial Drivers Can Manage Sleep Apnea And Maintain Their CDL
Commercial drivers are being told by some DOT medical examiners that they must be tested for sleep apnea before they can get a new medical card.
We’re seeing much confusion and frustration in the questions drivers are asking us on our FAQ forum.
“Does you neck have to be a certain size? They tell me I have to have a sleep study”
“The doctor our company sends us to says anyone with a BMI above 35 automatically has to take the expensive tests from his company’s sister sleep test division…”
“Some examiners are requiring drivers to go have sleep studies done based solely upon BMI and neck circumference. How can that be? “
“My husband who is 53yrs old just went for a physical to renew his medical card. They told him because he was over 50 and his neck was 17.5 he had to do the sleep study. I’ve been told by others that the age criteria is 55 and if neck is over 17in. Which is correct? “
“I recently went in to renew my CDL and everything checked out normal. However since I was over the age of 42 and I am a male, the doctor gave me a 45-day temp card and told me before he could give me my 1 year medical card I had to get a sleep apnea test done. My neck size and my BMI checked out normal. Can he do this to me? “
So why are so many people – doctors, as well as drivers – confused on this sleep apnea issue?
We’ve attempted to follow the breadcrumbs over time, to see how this predicament developed.
- 2008: The Medical Review Board recommended that the FMCSA require all drivers to be screened for obstructive sleep apnea.
- 2008: A health panel recommended to the Medical Review Board that CDL medical certification be conditional based on body mass index (BMI).
- The National Transportation Safety Board was one of the parties alleging a clear connection between driver sleep apnea and safety.
- May 2010: In response to such concerns, the American Sleep Apnea Association, the American Trucking Associations and the FMCSA co-sponsored a national Sleep Apnea & Trucking Conference about sleep apnea’s effect on truckers.
- April 20, 2012: FMCSA published a Proposed Regulatory Guidance for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and request for comment.
- April 27, 2012: FMCSA published a withdrawal notice on its Proposed Recommendations on Obstructive Sleep Apnea.
- September 12, 2013: A proposed sleep apnea bill was introduced, and passed the House and the Senate, requiring that FMCSA establish a formal rule rather than guidance relating to sleep disorders.
- October 15, 2013: The sleep apnea bill was signed into law by the President. The law forbids the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration from using guidance alone to address sleep apnea screening for drivers. It requires that if the agency take action regarding sleep apnea screening, that it do so via the formal rule-making process, and not guidance. Note: The law does not require that the FMCSA create a sleep apnea rule.
Put In A Nutshell
FMCSA has been called on their lack of proper rule making procedures regarding sleep apnea screening i.e. how to determine who should be tested.
The last response we can find from FMCSA on this issue is that “FMCSA will issue a notice to address obstructive sleep apnea through the formal rulemaking process after collecting and analyzing the necessary data and research.” As we publish this article, there is still no information available from FMCSA regarding sleep apnea screening.
There is currently no ruling by the FMCSA for sleep apnea screening on DOT physicals.
DOT Medical Examiners
DOT medical examiners are finding themselves caught between a rock and a hard place on this issue, as they are held responsible for ensuring that a driver is medically fit to drive a commercial motor vehicle.
Your employer may have more strict requirements and is allowed to impose their own screening criteria. A company must a least meet the FMCSA medical requirements. However, company policy may impose stricter standards than those required by FMCSA.
You can find Dr. Seals at Chiro Stop in Salt Lake City, UT.
Sher C. says
My medical card is basically being held hostage over a sleep study for apnea. Something I don’t have, *MY* Drs. know I don’t have, do not have the symptoms or signs of, no issues with, etc., & he’s making a mountain out of mole hills to order it. This jerk isn’t even my Dr. He’s not even a “Dr.” He’s a Physician’s Assistant. He is also known throughout the company for sending anyone he possibly can for a sleep study any chance he gets for any excuse he can come up with. His excuse for me is I have high BP, BMI, & asthma. But not really—I’m a mild asthmatic. So mlld that sometimes my inhaler usually expires before I use it all. & it’s only a problem in the winter. He tried to put me on preventative steroids with 5 mins.! I have mild fibromyalgia & don’t take meds for it because it caused me more issues, so yes, the chronic pain elevates my a BP little to the high end of normal & I had a migraine the day I was sent to him. I have hypothyroidism, even weight loss surgery failed & I hadn’t been on medication for it because I lost my previous job & had no insurance. All reasonable explanations & no serious issues or limitations. He’s an arrogant jerk, not using any common sense, & only issued my medical card for 3 months. Personally, I think he’s running a sleep study racket. He wouldn’t be the first. My company insists that I have to finish this with him or else it’s “Dr. hopping” & I’m not allowed to choose my own Dr. How do I get around this, get my medical card, & stop this abusive jerk?
Trucker Docs™ says
@ Sher C
You are not doc shopping if you demand a second opinion, especially if you know you do not have a sleep disorder. Go elsewhere for a second opinion.
John Z says
So I’ve decided to get a 2nd opinion for my Dot Card. One I found through this website. Previous examiner wants results from a sleep study bc my BMI is 33.5 and neck is 17.5 and I’m 48. Even though I told the examiner I’ve never had issue with sleeping in my life. Anyways, I did call some sleep study places and almost all of them are like “Wait list for a study is like 2-3 months out” WHAT? I can’t go that long without working. So my question is, if this new examiner I get a 2nd opinion from somehow tells me I need to get a study done, do they at least give you a temporary DOT card for 3 months or so, so you can at least still work while you’re waiting to take this unnecessary sleep test?
Trucker Docs™ says
@ John Z
DOT/FMCSA NEVER established a required sleep study be done, based solely on BMI and neck size. You must present with a multitude of signs and symptoms before a sleep study is requested. Go for the second opinion with a CME that is not in bed with a sleep study group.