The American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery believes that physicians should not be required to report their patients with disorders of equilibrium to drivers licensing boards. Physicians should cooperate with such boards if given permission by their patients to give medical information that could help the board to determine whether an individual can safely operate a motor vehicle. It is our position that the responsibility for reporting medical conditions is between the patient and the state’s division of motor vehicles. This obligation should be stated in writing on the license application or renewal form. It is our position that if a patient is reported by a physician for the sole intent of evaluating the safety of the person’s ability to continue to operate a motor vehicle, the physician should be given complete immunity as long as he or she has provided this information in good faith. In general, physicians are not able to accurately assess a patient’s ability to drive. If state law requires physician reporting of equilibrium disorders to drivers licensing boards, physicians should comply with such laws, but may do so under protest.
Important Disclaimer Notice (Updated 7/31/14)
Position statements are approved by the American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery or Foundation (AAO-HNS/F) Boards of Directors and are typically generated from AAO-HNS/F committees. Once approved by the Academy or Foundation Board of Directors, they become official position statements and are added to the existing position statement library. In no sense do they represent a standard of care. The applicability of position statements, as guidance for a procedure, must be determined by the responsible physician in light of all the circumstances presented by the individual patient. Adherence to these clinical position statements will not ensure successful treatment in every situation. As with all AAO-HNS/F guidance, this position statement should not be deemed inclusive of all proper treatment decisions or methods of care, nor exclusive of other treatment decisions or methods of care reasonably directed to obtaining the same results. Position statements are not intended to and should not be treated as legal, medical, or business advice.