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Physicians take legal action to challenge US board’s “monopoly” on certification

BMJ 2018; 363 doi: (Published 21 December 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;363:k5410
  1. Owen Dyer
  1. Montreal, Canada

Four doctors who say that their careers were damaged when their certification was withdrawn by the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) are leading a legal challenge against what they say is an unfair monopoly of the recertification process.

Almost all American internists, and physicians in many related specialties, are expected to hold a certificate from ABIM that proves maintenance of certification (MOC). For many, this has involved steep fees and a high stakes exam every 10 years. But for those who obtained their initial certification before 1990, ABIM has waived this requirement, unfairly penalising younger doctors, the suit argues.

ABIM’s certification is needed for several specialties to obtain hospital privileges and join insurers’ networks. Losing it typically forces doctors to take less prestigious jobs for lower pay.

ABIM’s actions are an unreasonable restraint of trade that …

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