What to Expect During a DOT Physical in Maryland

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According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act (FMCSA), anyone who operates a vehicle weighing over 10,000 pounds, or any commercial vehicle, whether they have a commercial learner’s license, commercial driver’s license or any other sort of license, is required to pass a DOT physical. The State of Maryland is no different.

Once a Maryland driver has passed a DOT physical, he (or she) is issued a DOT card, which allows them to legally operate equipment, is required for insurance purposes, and helps to ensure the health and safety of commercial drivers and other road users. Whether it is for you or an employee, the process to undergo this physical is the same.

Health History Review

The first step in a DOT physical is to undergo a detailed health history review. The physician administering the exam will ask a series of predetermined questions about your health, with a particular focus on preexisting heart, lung, liver and other chronic diseases. You will also be asked  about brain and spinal injuries, epilepsy and psychological conditions. Finally, you will be asked about controlled or treated conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure or hearing loss.

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It is important to mention any conditions or injuries that you are aware of during the health history review, as this will enable the physician to prepare an accurate report, and may help to motivate exceptions to standards. It will also inform the health care practitioner conducting the test of issues to pay close attention to during the physical examination.

Make sure that the doctor is provided with a complete list of all prescription and over the counter medications during this part of the exam, too.

Blood Pressure, Hearing and Vision Tests

Once the history and paper based exam is completed, the next step in a DOT physical is testing your heart function, hearing and vision.

  • In order to qualify for a DOT card, a driver requires a blood pressure reading that is below 140/90. The physician will take two readings, to ensure that the reported reading is as accurate as possible. At the same time, the physician will assess the pulse to make sure that it is steady and regular.
  • Vision testing for a DOT card includes a regular eye test for which candidates must achieve at least 20/40 in each eye, peripheral vision testing, and testing of the ability to distinguish between traffic signals. Results are recorded with or without corrective eyewear, so if a driver routinely wears glasses or contact lenses, they should wear them for the test.
  • Hearing testing for a DOT physical in Maryland and elsewhere requires that the applicant be able to hear a forced whisper at a distance of five feet. It also requires that candidates have no more than 40 decibels hearing loss in their better ear. Again, applicants who routinely use a hearing aid are allowed to (and encouraged to) wear the aid during the test.

Lab Testing

The lab testing portion of the DOT physical in Maryland is designed to:

  1. Identify any unknown underlying medical conditions that the applicant is not aware of, and
  2. To measure the extent of any known conditions.

A urine sample is taken and tested for:

  • Protein
  • Glucose
  • Blood

The presence of these in the compounds in the urine may indicate undiagnosed conditions like diabetes or infections, which may affect the ability of the driver to safely operate commercial vehicles on public roads.

Physical

The final part of the DOT physical in Maryland is a comprehensive physical, to confirm the presence of any known conditions, and to look for red flags that may indicate an undiagnosed condition.

During the physical, the physician will note the general appearance and apparent health of the candidate. Your provider will visually assess the eyes, ears, mouth, nose and throat, and then listen to the heart, lungs and chest. An assessment of the abdominal area, the genitourinary system and the musculoskeletal system and spine will follow.

Finally, the doctor will run tests to assess neurological function, reflexes, and the function of extremities.

Results and DOT Card

Should any adverse medical conditions be discovered during the DOT physical, the applicant will be informed of them once results are available. If the applicant passes the exam, but has a condition that may require medical surveillance, the DOT card could be issued for 3 months, 6 months or one year. Generally, however, DOT cards are issued for two years.

Balancing Quality Care and Compassion

When Physicians Now team members perform DOT physicals in Maryland, we understand that a combination of quality care, attention to detail and compassionate care for patients is a necessity. We know that companies need results fast, and we also know that the FMCSA demands a high level of accuracy and attention to detail. We streamline the process, while still putting patients first, so you can get your commercial drivers out on the road as quickly as possible.