Somebody has finally recognized the hypocrisy of the entire maintenance of certification process in medicine and is doing something about it. The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons has filed a federal lawsuit against the American Board of Medical Specialties for restraining trade and restricting patient access to doctors. The AAPS is using the case of a New Jersey physician who has taken care of thousands of patients over the years. But because he has not spent the time and money to get his board certification renewed, he is now barred from practicing at his hospital. This certainly sounds like a bureaucratic reason for preventing a doctor from seeing his patients. Nobody has disputed this physician's ability to treat patients. He only lacks a flimsy piece of paper that will cost him thousands of dollars in ransom payments to his medical board.
The entire MOC has been suspicious from the start. It begins with the arbitrary date whereby some physicians who were certified before that date get a lifetime certificate to practice while others, through no fault of their own, who finished residency after that date need to spend thousands of hours and dollars to recertify every ten years. This despite studies that have shown that older doctors are much more likely to get sued for malpractice than younger ones.
There has never been any studies to prove that doctors who have been recertified are better than those who have not. This is proven by the shifting requirements necessary to achieve recertification. A couple of years ago, the American Board of Anesthesiology changed the rules so that a portion of the CME hours needed to recertify has to be obtained from material sold only by the American Society of Anesthesiology. The ABA couldn't possibly be thinking about all the money that will come in when thousands of anesthesiologists have to purchase study material from them, could they?
Then this year the ABA changed the rules again, lowering the CME hours required to recertify, from 350 to 250. Why did they do this? They claim this will allow anesthesiologists to complete their MOC along the same standards as the other specialties in the ABMS. But this only goes to prove that the extra money and hours I spent to recertify last time was for naught. It did not make me a better physician. This is just some arbitrary number that somebody at the ABMS made up to force doctors to spend money on CME materials sold by the medical boards.
Is it any wonder people are fed up with the MOC rules? If continuing one's medical education is important for some doctors to maintain their competency, then it should be important for all doctors. Otherwise the ABMS and the ABA should abolish this shameful moneymaking scheme and refund our money. I wish the AAPS the best of luck in their case.