Thursday, June 10, 2010

Beep Beep

Hmm... I recently learned that Maryland's Department of Motor Vehicles has a long list of illnesses that must be reported to the DMV ---by the driver, fortunately, not by the shrink. If a driver reports one of these illnesses, his doc needs to fill out paper work about his ability to drive.

Here is the link, and here is the list:

Customer Self-Report of a Medical Condition

Maryland law requires drivers to notify the MVA if they are diagnosed with any of the following conditions:

  1. Cerebral palsy;
  2. Diabetes requiring insulin;
  3. Epilepsy;
  4. Multiple sclerosis;
  5. Muscular dystrophy;
  6. Irregular heart rhythm or heart condition;
  7. Stroke, ministroke, or transient ischemic attack (TIA);
  8. Alcohol dependence or abuse;
  9. Drug or substance dependence or abuse;
  10. Loss of limb or limbs;
  11. Traumatic brain injury;
  12. Bipolar disorder;
  13. Schizophrenic disorders;
  14. Panic attack disorder;
  15. Impaired or loss of consciousness, fainting, blackout, or seizure;
  16. Disorder which prevents a corrected minimum visual acuity of 20/70 in each eye and a field of vision of at least 110 degrees;
  17. Parkinson's disease;
  18. Dementia, for example, Alzheimer's disease or multi-infarct dementia;
  19. Sleep disorders, for example, narcolepsy or sleep apnea; or
  20. Autism.

A driver must report the problem when it is diagnosed, or when he or she is applying for a driver’s license or renewing an existing driver’s license.

I can't imagine that everyone with these disorders reports these illnesses, because I'm never asked to fill out form for DMV. And how would I know if someone can drive? I suppose if I'm being told about 6 crashes and getting lost....but I have patients who don't have any of the above disorders, who drive, who get into lots of accidents. If everyone abided by this law (and I wasn't able to find the actual law(s), but I didn't look that hard), I think we'd see 1) a lot less traffic and 2) many more clerical positions available at DMV.

Psychiatrists aren't trained to assess driving abilities. We do know the meds we give can cause sedation, and we do warn people of this. Apparently the form that is brought to the doctor asks about conditions which "may affect" ability to drive. So there's the issue of guessing about driving ability, and the issue of predicting the future, without a working crystal ball.

Your thoughts? And this post is about driving cars, not airplanes.