Answer: The medical application—which, as of Oct. 1, is only accepted as an online application using MedXpress—is a document that almost every pilot fills out, over and over again, and each time, it requires our careful attention in answering the questions. Our failure to pay that careful attention could lead to a loss of our ability to fly. Over the years, there have been small changes to the language on the application and, although the FAA is moving from paper to MedXpress on Oct. 1, the medical application, itself, has not been substantially revised or updated in decades. This makes it sometimes difficult to answer the questions on the form in light of current medical practices. So, you are right to be cautious and ask this question before submitting an application on which you may inadvertently respond to the questions incompletely or inaccurately.
As it relates to your question regarding what to report, there are at least two questions on the medical application form that merit our attention.
First, Question 18, “Medical History,” asks, “Have you ever in your life been diagnosed with, had or do you presently have any of the following?” If any of your doctor visits since 2004 involve any of the conditions listed in the form, you will have to provide a “yes” response and an explanation. There is no “statute of limitations” on what must be disclosed since the language of the question is meant to make clear that it pertains to any of the conditions or circumstances listed that have ever happened in your life, without regard to a time limitation. And, any “yes” answers must continue to be given on future applications. Just because you answer “yes” once does not relieve you of making sure to answer “yes” over and over again, though on subsequent applications you do not need to repeat the details and may simply state “previously reported.”
Second, Question 19, “Visits to Health Professional Within the Last 3 Years,” does limit any response to the three years preceding your application for medical certification. Therefore, you should list all your visits to a health professional within the previous three years, with the exception that visits for counseling need only be listed if related to personal substance abuse or a psychiatric condition and you do not need to list routine dental, eye, and FAA periodic medical examinations or consultations with your employer-sponsored employee assistance program unless for substance abuse or if it resulted in a referral for psychiatric evaluation or treatment.
As it relates to your second question about what could happen if you forget to list something, there can be pretty severe repercussions. When you submit your medical application, you sign the form at the bottom, signifying that you “hereby certify that all statements and answers provided by me on this application form are complete and true to the best of my knowledge.” If your answers are not true and complete, to the best of your knowledge, the FAA will view your answers as intentionally false, which will prompt the FAA to take action to immediately revoke all of your airman certificates, not just your medical certificate but your pilot certificate as well. So, it is in your best interest in protecting your ability to continue to fly that you carefully consider the questions posed on the medical application form and that you fully and fairly answer those questions.
Question: Since my last medical in 2004, I have had many doctor visits, none involving major medical conditions. My big question: Do I need to list every medical visit since 2004, or is there a 'statute of limitations'? What if I forget one and fail to list it?