Fainting may result in loss of drivers license
It happened to a friend of mine, simply because someone wrote one INCORRECT fact down on a medical form. And to get it corrected? Turns out it's IMPOSSIBLE, you have to wait a MINIMUM of six months before you can get the situation corrected.
Give the story a read... it's time that this Catch-22 is corrected.
Must we choose between driving and seeing a doctor?
September 24, 2010
R. Douglas Coughey
The Ontario Ministry of Transportation acts as judge, jury and executioner in certain cases when it comes to deciding whether or not to revoke a driver’s license.
An editorial in this newspaper recently asserted that the opportunity to appeal rightly exists for those Ontario motorists who feel they were inappropriately pinched by a policy that sees many stripped of their driver’s licence on alleged medical grounds. If there was a working appeal mechanism, that might be all the relief that’s required for such citizens. But that’s not the case.
Ontario citizens should be aware that they are in danger of having their driver’s license suspended for six months or more over simply seeing a doctor.
Medical practitioners in Ontario are required by law to report to the ministry even single episodes of such incidents as fainting. They are not expected to determine if the incident is a one-time occurrence, a condition that can be cured or controlled with proper medical treatment, or a chronic condition that cannot be controlled or cured making it not safe for their patient to drive. They must just report the incident. That notification places such patients on the record with the ministry and often in deeper trouble than was caused by the original medical incident.
The ministry then decides a driver’s fate, and people are not invited to participate in that decision. People may not even be aware that the status of their licence is under review until after they have been found unsafe to drive – at least temporarily — and served with papers demanding they hand over their licence. Is this how we would expect to be treated?
The medical review board does not become involved until a licence suspension is completed, and people are eligible to re-apply for a new licence. It then decides whether the licence should be reinstated or the suspension extended.
The appeal tribunal process also takes months. The ministry provides no documentation to support its case against a driver. If someone can get those documents, it’s a good bet the ministry will stretch out the time it takes to release them. In addition, it can take months to make appointments with specialists, tests, and specialists again to explain the test results.
A tribunal official informed me the agency is so backlogged that it would take at least a month after it receives a request before it can will be reviewed. That’s no wonder, considering doctors must report every incident the ministry deems must be passed along.
I was informed by the ministry that there are thousands of citizens in a similar situation. I had my licence pulled after I saw a doctor following an isolated, non-driving, fainting spell this summer.
It’s all based on this clause in the Highway Traffic Act: “…every legally qualified medical practitioner shall report to the Registrar of Motor Vehicles the name, address and clinical condition of every person 16 years of age or over attending upon the medical practitioner for medical services, who, in the opinion of the medical practitioner, is suffering from a condition that may make it dangerous for the person to operate a motor vehicle."
I believe the intent is for medical practitioners to practise due diligence prior to reporting an incident to the ministry. If someone’s medical history and prescribed tests convince the doctor they are not safe to drive, then the doctor should provide a written report to the ministry, as well as a copy to the patient, stating the reason for the determination and the recommendation as to whether the condition can be successfully treated.
Doctors are in an extremely bad position being forced to take part in what is a great injustice for many patients. They know many of the people they report are losing their licences when there is little or no medical evidence to believe they are unsafe to drive.
This insanity has to stop. Someone in authority must find the courage to make changes to a ministry that is destroying, with impunity, the lives of so many citizens. Many to the people I speak with suggest that only the government can make the necessary changes and that I should speak to my MPP. I did. But Guelph MPP Liz Sandals said that, although there are problems, the system is best left alone. In fact, she claims the rules are going to be made stricter.
If the ministry is accurate in its interpretation of the Highway Traffic Act, the citizens of Ontario need to consider the consequences before they seek medical attention. The original medical problem could be much less painful than what the ministry is going to do to them.