Ministry of Transportation Medical Review Committee

September 23, 2021

The AMA is recruiting a Reviewing Officer for the Ministry of Transportation Medical Review committee. The Reviewing Officer plays a role in improving traffic safety on Alberta's roadways by the application of medical fitness standards for drivers wishing to obtain or maintain an Alberta Driver's License.

Medical Review Committee: Job Description

The Medical Review Committee (MRC) is a committee of three physicians licensed to practice in the Province of Alberta. As per Section 59 of the Traffic Safety Act, the Minister may appoint a Medical Review Committee by agreement with the Alberta Medical Association. These physicians represent the AMA and are paid the rate set by Alberta Health and the AMA through their agreement. The MRC provides advice and interpretation on complex medical files.

To provide this advice, files are received electronically on a dedicated Government of Alberta computer for which a Government of Alberta password and identification are needed to ensure compliance with privacy and government regulations. The files are in PDF format and a specific request from the Medical area requesting the physician to review information in the client’s file and provide a recommendation for license suitability based on the information provided.

The advice provided cannot be supplemented by the use of Netcare, as accessing this system for non-patient care activities is not a legitimate use of this resource.

The physician who is conducting the review of the file does this by using Alberta’s Transportation’s Case Management Tool and provides an recommendation as to whether the license holder meets or does not meet the minimum Medical Standards for licensure. Consideration is also given to deviate from the Medical Standards if warranted or if the license holder is able to compensate for their condition. It may be necessary to request further information or to apply conditions and/or terms on the license holder. However the final decision on licensure is lies with the Medical Unit of Alberta Transportation.

To facilitate the decisions, the Canadian Counsel of Motor Transport Administrators (CCMTA) Medical Standards for Driver’s covers the majority of situations likely to be faced. The current edition in use was updated in 2017. This manual is available at the computer station provide to the MRC committee member and is also available online as a PDF file and it can also be downloaded and stored on a personal device by the reviewing physician. This standard closely follows the CMA Driver’s Guide. The production of this document was a result of a collaboration of all of the provinces and territories and many individuals from these jurisdictions with various expertise contributed to the final product.

The manual is divided into two parts. The first part describes the authority for the CCMTA Medical Standards for Drivers, and then an approach to the assessment of driver fitness. The second part contains the detail standards for most of the medical conditions the reviewing physician will be asked to deal with. The standards can be viewed on the CCMTA website (CCMTA Medical Standards for Drivers begin on page 64).

The Medical Standards may vary for non-commercial and commercial driving. There are more rigorous criteria for commercial drivers as the risk for commercial driving are higher. Commercial drivers generally drive many more kilometers than private drivers and therefore have a greater risk, and the consequences of a collision in a commercial vehicle are usually much more severe because of the increased size and mass of the motor vehicle. In some situations, the Reviewing Officer may ask for a review of third party report. This is often a report submitted by a non-physician such as an occupational therapist, nurse, police officer or a member of the public. It usually contains information about a client’s medical condition which might affect their ability to meet licensing standards. An example would be an occupational therapy report or driving assessment that recommends cessation of driving because of multiple serious errors committed on the assessment. Another example is a report of a client who is severely cognitively impaired yet continuing to drive. The Reviewing Officer will ask the physician to review the provided information and make a recommendation which may include suspension of driving on a temporary or permanent basis. This decision is again reported using the provided software and also to the reviewing officer.

Other tasks provided by the MRC may include advice on policy and procedures to the department.

Remuneration for the services to the department are negotiated by the Alberta Medical Association and are based on 1/2 daily fee for each session provided.

The Reviewing Officer reports to the Medical Manager of Driver Fitness and Monitoring. This position plays a role in improving traffic safety on Alberta’s roadways by keeping drivers safe and mobile through the application of medical fitness standards for drivers wishing to obtain or maintain an Alberta Driver’s License. Using their expertise and knowledge of the CCMTA Medical Standards for Drivers, as well as existing traffic safety legislation, the Reviewing Officer has overall responsibility to review medical and other documentation provided by drivers, physicians, insurance companies, law enforcement agencies, driving assessment centers and driver examiners to determine what action should be taken.

The Reviewing Officer position is responsible to review all complaints and referrals made regarding the aptitude of a client to continue operating a vehicle in a safe manner. Reviews must be conducted on individual case by case basis. The Reviewing Officer must undertake the review using their expertise in traffic safety legislation and policies. Consistency is paramount in how the reviews are conducted and how the decisions are perceived negatively, politically, legally and human rights implications.

Alberta is currently dealing with an increased driving population which affect the workload of the Reviewing Officer. It includes an aging population, longevity of drivers, drivers from other jurisdictions and their requirements, greater numbers and complexity of medical and/or physical condition(s) and the use of new technology and medical advances.

In a given year, each Reviewing Officer is required to review the abilities of over 5,000 drivers and make decisions on the future of their driving privileges. Due to the ever-increasing volume, there is a constant backlog of complaints and referrals to be prioritized, reviewed and managed.

The decision made by the Reviewing Officers does impact thousands of drivers in a given year as they have the authority to suspend a person’s driver’s license and driving privileges if deemed necessary. Although contentious files can be referred to the MRC the decision on whether to refer the files rests with the Reviewing Officer.

If you are interested in this position, please contact Didi Wimmer-Frank, Director, Contract Negotiations, AMA Health Economics, at Didi.Wimmer-Frank@albertadoctors.org.

The AMA advances patient-centered, quality care by advocating for and supporting physician leadership and wellness.