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Form 8500-8 (Part 4)

Airman Medical Certificate – Form 8500-8 – Part 4

This article is part four of a five part series that is covering the most frequently asked questions concerning sections 17a, 18, 18x, 18v, and 19 on Form 8500-8, and a discussion concerning Article 22 of the parties’ CBA as it may relate to making changes to information provided on the 8500-8. The last article covered sections 18v and 18y (new sections to Form 8500-8). This article will examine questions concerning section 19 on the 8500-8 Form.

Question 19: Visits to Health Professionals Within the Last 3 Years.

Question 19 has been the most common source of problems against controllers recently. This area can be interpreted very broadly. The only exemptions from reporting in this area are “Routine dental, eye, and FAA periodic medical examinations…” Also “…consultations with your employer-sponsored employee assistance program (EAP) may be excluded unless the consultations were for your substance abuse or unless the consultations resulted in referral for psychiatric evaluation or treatment.”

Counseling does not have to be reported if it was strictly related to family or marital counseling that does not result in a personal psychiatric diagnosis. Examples include joint sessions for families with difficult to manage teenagers, trauma to a family member, and relationship counseling. If the counseling results in a personal psychiatric diagnosis requiring individual therapy or medication, it is reportable. Individual sessions done in conjunction with joint marital therapy are generally not reportable.

An area of significant concern is counseling obtained as part of a Workers Compensation claim related to an on-the-job trauma, usually an aviation related incident or accident. Even though the FAA authorizes evaluation and treatment and clears the controller to return to work after review by the Regional Flight Surgeon, the meeting with the counselor should be reported on the Form. Remember, the instructions state “List ALL visits…” Listing a visit for a condition previously cleared by the FAA seems redundant, but should not result in a loss of medical qualification if explained to the AME.

What else should be reported? Everything else. Routine medical examinations by your private physician, GYN exams, oral surgery, discussion of laboratory work, and even visits for minor colds and coughs are not excluded according to the instructions. Obviously more serious conditions require reporting. If a controller has multiple visits to one health professional for the same reason, simply list a range of dates for all visits in a single line. Use a blank sheet of paper to report the visits if there is not enough room on the Form. When submitting an extra sheet to report visits, write on the explanations section of question 18 “see attached supplemental reports.” This will offer some protection to the controller if the separate paper is lost or not forwarded to the FAA by the AME.

How should visits be reported? Report the final diagnosis, not the symptom, as the reason for visit. For example, visit(s) to a doctor triggered by burning chest discomfort after eating that resolves with an antacid or “purple pill” should not be listed as a visit for “chest pain.” That would result in requirements for more medical information and possible costly medical evaluations. The correct technique for listing the visit(s) may be “Reflux, treated and resolved.” Other common listings include “routine examination, normal” and “blood pressure check-up.” Calling the Virtual Flight Surgeons’ office may help a controller in honestly responding to a question without causing unnecessary alarm.

Who is a health professional? Again, no definition or guidance is provided. In addition to the obvious doctors, osteopaths, dentists, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants, also included are psychologists, counselors, social workers, substance abuse specialists, naturopaths, physical therapists, and chiropractors. This list is not exhaustive. Persons not included are clergy who may provide counseling and peer counselors as part of a critical incident response program.

Virtual Flight Surgeons (VFS)

You should contact the aviation medical professionals at the VFS for assistance in completing section 19 of the form, and for further guidance concerning your medical situation. The VFS can be reached at 866-AEROMED or aviationmedicine.com.