Every commercial driver on the road today, or in school learning how, is required to take a series of DOT physicals during their career. This health certificate carries as much importance as their CDL license, and not having one can get your license suspended. To give you an idea of what you will be facing, we will go over each phase of the testing, so that you will know what to expect.
Phase One: Medical History
The information you will need to provide for the doctor will cover the last five years of your personal medical history. This will include any injuries, surgeries or illnesses you have had during that time, any medications that you take regularly, as well as your habits concerning smoking, recreational drugs and alcohol. Any and all incidents of medical emergencies are also included, especially anything dealing with fainting, anxiety, or other conditions that would require psychiatric treatment.
Phase Two: Vision and Hearing
The vision test requires that you have at least a field of vision for each eye of 70 degrees, and if you wear corrective lenses, have a tested level of at least 20/40. You will also have to be tested to be certain that you can distinguish colors, especially those normally used in traffic signals. The hearing test will include the standard audiogram testing with headphones. This will measure the exact sound frequency that you can currently hear, and whether or not you have any significant hearing loss.
Phase Three: Blood Pressure and Urinalysis
To get the standard two year health certification during DOT physicals, you must have a tested blood pressure of less than 140/90. That is the level considered normal by the DOT. A pressure of 140-149/90-99 will qualify you for a one year certificate only, is considered to be Stage I hypertension and will dictate follow-up checks. Anything higher than this may be up for review, and may only grant you limited health certification, from three to six months. Urinalysis will test for abnormalities in blood sugar, ketones, proteins, and white or red blood cells. The DOT physical as it stands does not normally test for drugs or alcohol levels unless requested. By law, you must be notified in advance if you must undergo a urine drug or alcohol test of any kind.
Phase Four: Physical and Neurological Test
A complete physical exam, from head to toe, follows next, including imaging of every organ, muscle, and bone to detect any condition that would disqualify you from certification. The neurological test will cover reflexes, equilibrium and coordination as the last part of DOT physicals.