If you’re a commercial vehicle driver, you probably know you need a DOT physical every two years. However, those with a condition such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or nerve pain could be required to have an exam every six months to a year. These physicals ensure that drivers are physically sound to operate the commercial motor vehicle in the certain gross vehicle weight rating class they are licensed to drive. A DOT physical follows strict guidelines that are mandated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), ensuring that commercial drivers, especially those that drive interstate commerce and all safety-sensitive
employees, are in good health to operate a vehicle safely.
With these strict guidelines, DOT physicals can sometimes seem overwhelming, so we are here to offer some help in simplifying the process and let you know how to get ready for your exam.
What does the DOT physical exam entail?
A typical DOT exam will cover the following: a review of your medical history, a general exam, vision and hearing tests, cardiovascular system check, and a urinalysis test to determine if you have the early onset of certain diseases as well as to check for the use of drugs or illicit
substances. Drivers with vision or hearing problems are required to bring their eyeglasses, contacts, or hearing aids. Drivers with diabetes must bring the most recent lab results from their Hemoglobin A1C (HgAIC) and their blood sugar logs. Drivers suffering from heart-related issues must, at a minimum, bring a letter from their cardiologist that outlines their medical history and current medications, as well as indicating that they are safe to work. One time-saving recommendation is that drivers fill out the health history questionnaire before their appointment at the clinic.
What Should Drivers do to Prepare for DOT Physicals?
Avoid Caffeine & Sugar
Since caffeine can increase your heart rate and blood pressure, it’s best to cut out coffee, soft drinks, energy drinks, etc. for approximately 24 to 48 hours before your DOT physical. Avoid excess sugar, too. A high heart rate or blood pressure will lead to driving restrictions or even a loss of driving privileges, so it’s worth giving up these drinks for a day or so. Use water as a replacement beverage, which will also help to flush your system.
Just like caffeine, salt will increase your blood pressure and also lead to water retention. Cut back on your salt intake for at least a week before the DOT physical to ensure it isn’t raising your blood pressure.
If you eat a large meal before the DOT physical, you are bound to have an increase in the amount of sugar in your urine. High sugar levels in urine denote a potential for diabetes, and you may be recommended for additional testing or put on restrictions. Eat a light meal before the exam so you are full, but will not have the potential for any diabetes warning signs.
Prepare for the Intangibles
Make sure you drink some water about an hour before your exam, so you can provide a urine sample, and don’t absentmindedly go to the restroom right before you leave the house. As we mentioned before, write down all the medications you’re taking since some medicines could lead to a false positive on a drug screen. Also, make sure you block off enough time for the
DOT physical, so you aren’t trying to rush through the process. Some people get so nervous the day of their physical that their blood pressure and heart rate are raised. If you’re feeling nervous, tell the doctor so he or she is able to take that into account.
Review the DOT Physical Forms
Below, we have provided links to several forms associated with DOT physicals so that drivers and employers can review them before a visit. They include:
Medical Examination Report (MER) Form, MCSA-5875
This form features the driver’s information and health history, as well as the findings of the medical examiner during the DOT exam. The MER can be completed online at the center and does not need to be printed and completed beforehand.
Medical Examiner’s Certificate (MEC), Form MCSA-5876
Certified drivers will receive this certificate after passing a DOT exam.
Insulin-treated Diabetes Mellitus Assessment, MCSA-5870
Commercial drivers with insulin-treated diabetes must have this form completed by their treating clinicians no more than 45 days prior to examination. A Medical Examiner’s Certificate cannot be issued to the driver without this form.
For more information on the entire process, you can visit www.fmcsa.dot.gov.
Total Occupational Medicine
Total Occupational Medicine provides DOT physicals, as well as all Lake Urgent Care/Lake After Hours locations. Whether you are an employer or an employee, occupational medicine services provided in affiliation with an urgent care facility can help protect the safety, health and well-being of people all while making care delivery easier and more convenient. Total Occupational Medicine has been providing occupational medicine services in Baton Rouge and the surrounding area since 2003. Affiliated with Lake Urgent Care/Lake After Hours, we help minimize OSHA recordables, reduce average cost per case, and reduce lost time, which helps your bottom line without compromising quality patient care. We can partner directly with your business to develop a customized plan to meet the specific needs of your company and work with you to deliver those services. Total Occupational Medicine is conveniently located at 3333
Drusilla Lane near I-12 and is open from 7:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. In addition, we treat injuries and provide substance testing until 11:00 p.m. seven days a week at Lake After Hours Drusilla, conveniently located in the same complex. For more information,
contact us at (225) 924-4460 or visit www.totaloccmed.com.