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Can J Cardiol. 2000 Oct;16(10):1257-63.

Impact of a mandatory physician reporting system for cardiac patients potentially unfit to drive.

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Queen's University, Kingston General Hospital, Kingston, Canada.



Sudden cardiac incapacitation of a driver may lead to the death or serious injury of passengers or bystanders. This has raised public safety concerns and has led to the creation of legislation to protect the public. Some jurisdictions in Canada and the United States have introduced mandatory physician reporting of patients who may be unfit to drive for medical reasons. The impact on motor vehicle accident (MVA)-related morbidity and mortality of mandatory physician reporting for at-risk cardiac patients is unknown.


To determine the impact of mandatory physician reporting legislation (for cardiac patients) in Ontario (population 10.3 million) on MVA-related morbidity and mortality.


Reporting data were obtained from the Ontario Ministry of Transportation. Incidence and prevalence data were taken from Ontario Ministry of Health sources and from the literature (MEDLINE). Data for modelling were taken from the literature (MEDLINE) and from the Canadian Cardiovascular Society's Consensus Conference document on cardiac illness and fitness to drive.


Licence suspension data (correlated with medical illness) were taken directly from government documents. These were then applied to a 'risk of harm' formula used to calculate the risk posed to bystanders and passengers by the suspended patients if they had continued to drive. Canadian licence suspension guidelines were then reviewed in conjunction with cardiac disease incidence and prevalence data to arrive at the number of patients who should have been suspended. Physician compliance with the legislation was then calculated, along with the potential impact on MVA-related morbidity and mortality in the scenario of 100% physician compliance.


All Ontario drivers who had licence suspensions in 1996 for reasons of cardiac disease were included in the analysis.


Nine hundred and ninety-four licences were suspended for cardiac reasons in 1996, compared with an estimated 72,407 that should have been suspended if Canadian guidelines had been followed (1.4%). Less than one death or serious injury was avoided as a result of the legislation (from the 'risk of harm' formula). If all drivers with cardiac illness had been suspended from driving, up to 29.2 such events could potentially have been avoided. However, only 13 of 929 (1.4%) road fatalities in Ontario in 1996 were attributed to a driver with a medical illness.


Mandatory physician reporting of patients with cardiac illness has a negligible impact on MVA-related morbidity and mortality.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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