As MRO’s, we frequently get asked about interpretation of Department of Transportation (DOT) guidelines. The recent ruling regarding the new DOT Commercial Driver’s License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse has created a lot more questions than answers. After reviewing the DOT site, I too agree that it is unclear upon perusal of the ruling available on line. My confusion was regarding the possible HIPPA violations that could occur with an MRO or TPA accessing or posting to a national data base confidential medical test records. The Federal government has made provisions in some areas for MRO’s to gain access to medical information for donors, but there still is that fine line of HIPPA concern.
I decided to call the DOT and get clarification of the ruling and where the responsibility of reporting lies. After speaking with the DOT supervisor Becky Rahlberg for clarification I came away with some answers, but more questions regarding how effective this will actually be in stopping the epidemic of confirmed positive DOT drivers.
First let me preface, I was told that the ruling is not complete presently. There are currently discussions underway regarding the final roll out on January 1, 2020.
The present ruling states that the MRO nor the TPA are responsible to add the driver to the database. The driver has the responsibility to place himself in the data base along with his result. I am sure that, like myself, this has stopped everyone reading this to go back and re-read this section. Yes, you are reading it correctly. It is hard to believe, but this is the current policy. This is due to the HIPPA regulation that protects medical records.
I am certain there will be further additions made to the ruling in the next 6 months. I, like others, will certainly be watching to see the ruling’s end result. The effectiveness of the rule is subject, of course, to the regulations that are attached to the ruling.