Comments By Mark K. avatar
  • Mark K.
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  • 2 years, 10 months ago
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Posted:  2 years, 10 months ago

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DOT Med Card Recertification Question

Hey everyone! Long time lurker, first time poster. I have some anxiety about an upcoming appointment to recertify for my DOT medical card, and am curious if any of you have experience or wisdom to share.

I've been with Wilson Logistics for some time and love everything about it. Back in June, I had taken a week of home time to visit friends in California, and went into a mental health clinic to seek some assistance because I'd been feeling mildly depressed for about a month. The doctor prescribed me low doses of zyprexa and depakote (NOT as an anti-seizure medication, which it's also prescribed for) as mood stabilizers to see if they would improve things over the next few weeks. I reported the change in medication to compliance and received a note from the doctor stating that I am "medically cleared to safely operate a commercial motor vehicle," as per compliance's requirement. I then went to see a DOT examiner in San Bernardino from Wilson's list of approved providers to recertify my med card. However, having only been on the new medication for 2 weeks at the time, the DOT examiner felt that not enough time had passed to be sure no side effects would occur, despite my assurances they hadn't and despite the clearance note I provided stating I could safely operate a commercial motor vehicle. The DOT examiner said that at least six weeks would have to pass to monitor my condition on the meds to make sure no unsafe side effects would present, so he denied my recertification. Frustrating, but understandable given the line of work we are in.

Since I was on good terms with Wilson as an employee, they placed me on unpaid leave (their maximum) for 30 days to keep my insurance benefits, and I scheduled follow-up appointments in my hometown with a psychiatric provider to monitor the side effects as instructed. (Even though Wilson requires an automatic separation after the 30 days' leave, they told me that I'm free to return as soon as I reapply and am able to obtain a new medical card.) The new doctor was immediately skeptical of my original diagnosis, and disagreed that I was so quickly placed on psychiatric medications after having been seen only once. She started titrating my doses down for our first two biweekly appointments and recommended Telehealth talk therapy. This week, she felt that we are good to take me off the medications altogether, and after speaking with compliance, they cleared me to go ahead and reapply. I am now waiting for my appointment with a DOT examiner in my area to get recertified, and according to Wilson I can be back on a truck as soon as September 2 in just two weeks.

When I looked at my copy of the DOT long form from the last examination, I noticed that one of the first questions is "has your USDOT/FMCSA medical certificate ever been denied", so naturally I have to report my last denied appointment back in June and explain all of the events. Reason tells me I don't have anything to worry about, because since I'm no longer on the medications, I shouldn't be denied for NOT being on medications-- for which six weeks with no side effects had already passed. What's making me nervous is that I asked my new doctor for a note to bring in stating she took me off the medications, and she said that she "only writes notes for patients she's been seeing for six months." I was floored and dumbfounded at how implausible this sounds, so I repeated myself twice to make sure I heard her correctly. She's otherwise been excellent, but this seems to be completely arbitrary and I'm worried it could prevent a roadblock.

Granted, I haven't even been in for the appointment yet, and the DOT examiner could very well approve me based on the above information. Obviously my plan is to be honest and disclose the entire truth about my situation. My concern is simply that if the DOT examiner asks for a note stating I've been taken off the medication, that I won't be able to provide it, leaving me in a catch-22 where I can't drive on the medications and can't drive off the medications. I badly want to return to Wilson and they clearly want me back, but the only thing standing in the way of being back on my truck is a med card.

Have any of you experienced a similar situation with medications and DOT recertifications, or have you heard of others with similar situations? Wilson states that my DOT exam must be from their list of preferred providers, so if for whatever reason I am denied again at this appointment, is my only recourse to go for another examination elsewhere and then apply to another trucking company if approved? Thanks so much -- fingers crossed!

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