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                                                                     The Federal Air                 to do so in the past, it was often due
       FREQUENTLY SPEAK at aviation

                                                                    Surgeon’s Column                 to mistakes in issuing certificates to
     medical examiner (AME)                                                                          airmen who were taking inappropri-
     seminars, and when I do, I al-                                                                  ate medications. Unfortunately, we
                                                                                                     recently became aware of more than
ways take the opportunity to thank                                                                   100 airmen that had been issued
you for the excellent work that you                                                                  certificates while they were taking
do. I go on to say that we could                                                                     selective serotonin reuptake inhibi-
                                                                                                     tors, or SSRIs.
not possibly manage the business
                                                                                                        These and other antidepressants
of medically certifying more than                                                                    are unacceptable medications! We
600,000 airmen without you.                                                                          have published articles on SSRIs in
                                                                         By Fred Tilton, MD
   In fact, you do such outstanding                                                                  the Federal Air Surgeon’s Medical
work that we are planning to ex-                                                                     Bulletin, they are clearly identified
pand your role to allow some of you                           It will take us a while to make that   as disqualifying in the AME Guide,
to make initial special issuance or                        happen because we will have to make       and they are covered in virtually every
waiver decisions. At the moment, we                        regulatory changes before we can del-     AME seminar.
tentatively plan to call these AMEs                        egate that authority. So, if you have        We have had to spend hundreds
“Super-AMEs.”                                              an interest in expanding your func-       of hours dealing with these inappro-
                                                           tion, be watching for the rule-making     priate issuances. Airmen have been
                                                           notice in the Federal register.           inconvenienced, and they are natu-
         Federal Air Surgeon’s                                Those of you who eventually be-        rally angry. Appropriate corrective
           Medical Bulletin                                come Super-AMEs will be our very          action has been taken against those
         Library of Congress ISSN 1545-1518
                                                           best and most reliable AMEs. How-         AMEs who issued these certificates,
 Secretary of Transportation                               ever, because you have the authority to   and those who remain AMEs are not
 Norman Y. Mineta
                                                           render such decisions does not mean       likely to be selected to be Super-AMEs
 FAA Administrator                                         that you will be expected to do so in a   in the future.
 Marion C. Blakey
                                                           vacuum. We would much rather have            Antidepressants are not the only
 Federal Air Surgeon                                       you call us if you have questions than    disqualifying medications and, often
 Fred Tilton, MD
                                                           to issue a certificate in error.          as not, the underlying diagnosis is
 Editor                                                       As you may recall, in my first edi-    disqualifying as well. I realize that
 Michael E. Wayda
                                                           torial I wrote about calling your re-     only a few AMEs are responsible for
 The Federal Air Surgeon’s Medical Bulletin                gional flight surgeon or the Aerospace    these mistakes, but these events are so
 is published quarterly for aviation medical
                                                           Medical Certification Division if you     serious that I believe it makes sense to
 examiners and others interested in aviation
 safety and aviation medicine. The Bulletin is             had questions or concerns. As a Super-    remind everyone to be careful. We are
 prepared by the FAA’s Civil Aerospace Medical             AME, it will be even more important       in the safety business, and poor deci-
 Institute, with policy guidance and support from          for you to keep the communication         sions can have disastrous results.
 the Office of Aerospace Medicine. An Internet
 on-line version of the Bulletin is available at:
                                                           lines open because you will have the         So, pay attention to the articles in                authority that currently is held only     the Bulletin, read the AME Guide,
 Authors may submit articles and photos for
                                                           by Federal Aviation Administration        keep up with your required AME
 publication in the Bulletin directly to:                  physicians.                               training, and — by all means — call
 Editor, FASMB
                                                              Even if you do not wish to be a        us when you have questions.
 FAA Civil Aerospace Medical Institute                     Super-AME, we will continue to               I will close the way I started by
 AAM-400                                                   rely on you to use good judgment so       thanking all of you for your service.
 P.O. Box 25082
 Oklahoma City, OK 73125                                   that we do not have to reverse any of     We couldn’t do it without you.
 e-mail:                                your decisions. When we have had
                                                                                                                                   — Fred

2 T h e F e d e r a l A i r Su r g e o n ' s M e d i c a l B u l l e t i n • Vol. 44, No. 2 •

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