The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) established a Medical Review Board (MRB) several years ago to provide input to the Secretary of Transportation regarding driver safety issues. The five-member board advises the secretary on medical guidelines and standards for commercial drivers, physical qualifications drivers must meet, specialized testing for drivers with certain disabilities, identifying and minimizing risks, and training of medical examiners.
The five members of the MRB are doctors of osteopathy and medical doctors with several years of experience in a medical specialty. Additionally, board members have a deep understanding of how medical issues affect safe transportation and meet the following qualifications:
- Demonstrated understanding of research methods
- Experience developing medical standards
- Experience developing programs to teach others
- A strong record of professional service and scientific collaboration
A board member may nominate himself or herself to the MRB or receive a nomination from a member of the public, an academic institution, or another private or public organization. The Secretary of Transportation appoints board members to two-year renewable terms. Board members receive compensation for their time and travel under the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act.
Understanding the role of the Medical Review Board.
The primary obligations of the five people who serve on the MRB are to provide science-based data regarding whether drivers meet acceptable medical standards, offer an interpretation of medical research, and review and revise current medical standards. All work of the MRB centers around the appropriateness of the most current FMCSA medical standards for commercial drivers. This is the framework for measuring the health of commercial drivers and ensuring the safe operation of all commercial motor vehicles.
The MRB acts primarily in an advisory role to inform the FMCSA and Secretary of Transportation about physical qualifications for drivers based on scientific and medical evidence. It bears no responsibility for regulatory development. This includes such issues as managing or changing current FMCSA programs. Instead, it acts as more of a forum to consider medical information from a scientific perspective.
A transportation safety act known as the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users called for the development of an MRB to receive expert advice regarding the medical qualifications of commercial drivers. The MRB and FMCSA hold an annual meeting in Arlington, Virginia to discuss issues and consider any recommended changes. Current board members include:
- Gerald Harmon, MD, family practitioner, and the Vice President of Medical Affairs for Tidelands Health Group in South Carolina.
- Michael Kelley, MD, Senior Medical Director of Ambulatory Services at OhioHealth Neighborhood Care.
- Brian Morris, MD and Corporate Director of Medical Surveillance at OccMed Consulting and Injury Care in Massachusetts.
- Albert James Osbahr III, MD and Medical Director of Occupational Health Services at Catawba Valley Medical Center in North Carolina.
- Gina Pervall, MD and Chief of the Medical Advisory Board at the Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Administration in Maryland. She is also chairman of the MRB.
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