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Chiropractor Eliminated from DOT Physicals in New York

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by: DrTirpak posted: August 04, 2016

Chiropractors Approved in 49 States for DOT Exams

When New York Chiropractors certified to do DOT physicals received a letter saying that they would be removed from the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners Doctors of Chiropractic in New York and across the country wanted answers. An alphabet soup of agency, registries and organizations are all part of this frustrating puzzle with no quick fix in sight.

 As of June 1st 2016 New York Chiropractors are no longer able to provide DOT physicals and have been classified on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) list as not currently certified, compliments of the New York State Board of Chiropractic.

The New York State Board of Chiropractic decided to reverse their opinion on DOT physicals that had been in place for over 10 years late last year. On September 24th of 2015 the New York State Board of Chiropractic sent letters to New York Chiropractors on the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners (NRCME) list  explaining that DOT physicals were, “beyond the scope of chiropractic practice as defined under New York State law.” To make matters worse they also stated that it would take a legislative decision to expand the scope of practice. The Chiropractic board's decision resulted from strong arming by the New York State Education Department, no member of the Chiropractic Board signed the letter.

The history behind this controversy starts in 2005 when the New York State Board of Chiropractic sent a statement to the FMCSA through the Federation of Chiropractic Licensing Boards (FCLB) that the components of the DOT physical exam were within the scope of practice of Chiropractors in New York.  In 2014 the FMCSA created the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners requiring all providers to pass a national exam to become certified and listed on the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners. Federal and New York State law supports Chiropractors inclusion in the NRCME.  48 DCs in New York were listed as providers and performed over 30,000 exams before being removed this June. Currently hundreds of Chiropractors across the country are certified and conducting DOT exams on truck drivers every day.

Currently challenges are being made to return New York Chiropractors to the NRCME list by petitioning the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration over the procedures of their recent ruling. Other options include having the New York State Board of Chiropractic reversing their decision or a legislative change to the chiropractic practice act.

The New York State Chiropractic Association is also working on changing the state practice act part of their agenda this year. They want to add a number of law changes to expand the scope of chiropractors in New York. The changes include the ability to diagnose and differentially diagnose, along with the examine; which includes stand-alone examinations such as those required for DOT exams, school sports physicals, scoliosis screenings, and more. Without changes the ability of Chiropractors in New York to perform any type of physical exam beyond the spine could come into question. Medicare and Insurance carriers could question a Doctor of Chiropractic's ability under the New York scope to provide exams and treatment.
Fortunately for New York Chiropractors and DOT certified DCs nationwide the Safe Drivers, Safe Road Coalition (SDSRC)  stepped up to battle this fight. This 501 (c)6, formed by a group of dedicated DOT educators and certified Chiropractors that want to protect, defend and expand the rights of chiropractors in their participation in the performance of DOT physicals. They believe maintaining Chiropractors on the national registry will allow truckers and the trucking industry greater access and lower costs for exams.

The trucking industry agrees with the SDSRC. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) sent a letter to the New York State Board for Chiropractic asking them to reconsider their decision and that they shouldn’t make truck drivers’ lives any more difficult.

A larger battle could be brewing in other states based on the New York situation. According to the SDSRC, they believe challenges in Connecticut over DOT physicals two years ago from the Connecticut Medical Association, Connecticut Orthopedic Medical Society and other groups could be part of a strategy to eliminate Chiropractors state by state. After recent online statements on an industry list serve they fear theses attacks are being fueled by a few medical doctors in the transportation industry.

Extra Opinion: After having the opportunity to meet with Dr. David Thorpe of the the Safe Drivers, Safe Road Coalition last weekend I understand the potential set backs that face the entire Chiropractic profession. The real problems generated from this biased attack against Chiropractors in New York and others in recent years, namely in Connecticut and Texas, shows with legal and administrative challenges to state laws can eliminate the ability to provide school physicals, order and perform diagnostic tests, receive and accept referrals, plus much more. The right to practice is being eroded by malicious factions using the state chiropractic practice acts against DCs.

Today they are coming for New York DOT Exams, who will be next? It is time for Chiropractors to stand up and demand to practice to the extent of their education. The Safe Drivers, Safe Road Coalition (SDSRC) wants to defend Chiropractors across the US and is asking for help. Donate to the SDSRC

Filed Under Tags:  Chiropractors  ·  DOT  ·  NY


An alarming trend for sure! I currently live in Texas, so I know too well the pendulum swing regarding language, scope and turf battles with other types of providers. From what I have been told, oftentimes it is the "straight" chiropractors who actively push for restriction of scope, certainly in opposition of any expansion. It seems to occur after a announcement of intention to expand the scope. In Texas, like many other states, the original chiropractic law (1949) was a spine only, straight and restrictive type law. This was done primarily to create a safe boundary from the arrest and conviction of practicing "Medicine without a license" during the predominance of Palmer College and BJ and DD. I can't help mentioning the State of Illinois, where I have previously been licensed. There, my license classified me as "Chiropractic Physician", we were licensed under the Illinois Medical Practice Act specifically as a "drugless physician" , and the law specifies prohibition from practicing any other discipline, I.e., nursing, dentistry, osteopathy etc., without first holding a valid license for that profession. Beyond that, the scope is very broad, yet not controlling in "standard of care". Also, there is no separate Board of Chiropractic, but a "superboard" which regulates all professions. Discipline is meted out in similar fashion to other professions, I.e., fraud, conviction of a felony, boundary issues such as sexual violations, monitory and fudicial abuses etc. Yet there seems to be no ongoing scope battles as in many other states. I know of straight Chiro's there who do practice alongside very broad scope Chiro's without any apparent animosity. Yet in Texas, the straight group is fearful of being swallowed-up by medicine, and believes it is actively occurring. Yet I see no DC's here practicing "Medicine", nor do I see MD's wanting to practice "chiropractic" So the fear must be about increased responsibility and liability of a beyond-straight scope.Or, maybe the loss of autonomy and uniqueness of their practice and profession. What do you think??? Walking in Humility, Grace and Compassion, Dr Musker
by: Jeffrey K. Musker

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