FMCSA Updates Guidance Regarding Accident Registers

FMCSA has clarified "medical treatment" in relation to carriers' accident registers.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is updating its guidance, effective Friday, Feb. 25, 2022, to reflect that an x-ray exam is a diagnostic procedure and should no longer be considered a “medical treatment” in determining whether a crash should be included in a motor carrier’s accident register.

Current FMCSA guidance – which the agency notes lacks the force and effect of law and is just intended to clarify existing regulations – considers an x-ray exam and other imaging as medical treatment.

Federal regulations require that motor carriers keep an accident register for three years after the date of an “accident,” which FMCSA defines as an occurrence involving a commercial vehicle operating in interstate or intrastate commerce that results in a fatality; bodily injury to a person who, as a result of the accident, receives medical treatment away from the scene of the accident; or one or more motor vehicles being towed from the scene.

FMCSA says it received a petition requesting a revision to Question 27 of its guidance related to 49 CFR Part 390, stating that an x-ray is a diagnostic test that may find no injury and should not be considered a form of medical treatment. The petitioner suggested that FMCSA mirror the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s definition of medical treatment that excludes diagnostic procedures, such as x-rays and blood tests. FMCSA says it agrees with the revision.

The new guidance regarding x-rays and accident registers will read as follows:

Question 27: A person is transported to a hospital from the scene of a commercial motor vehicle traffic accident. In one situation, the person undergoes observation or a checkup. Is this considered “medical treatment,” making the CMV occurrence an “accident” for purposes of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations? In another situation, the person undergoes x-ray examination or is given a prescription but is released from the facility without being admitted as an inpatient. Is the x-ray or prescription considered “medical treatment,” making the CMV occurrence an “accident” for purposes of the FMCSRs?

Guidance: In the first situation, no. A person who does not receive treatment for diagnosed injuries or other medical intervention directly related to the accident, has not received “medical treatment” as that term is used in 49 CFR 390.5 or 390.5T. In the second situation, a person who undergoes an x-ray examination (or other imaging, such as computed tomography or CT) has not received “medical treatment.” The x-ray examination is a diagnostic procedure but is not considered “medical treatment.” However, a person who is given prescription medication (or the prescription itself) has received “medical treatment.”


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