Recertification Could Diminish Quality, Doctors Warn


TUCSON, Ariz., Sept. 4, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — While no one is in favor of bad doctoring, more patients may find that their doctor is not in because of misdirected programs claimed to “protect quality.” Instead, patients will be forced to rely on personnel with much less training than doctors have.

If elite monopolies such as the Federation of State Medical Boards or the American Board of Medical Specialties have their way, doctors will be “out” much more often, cramming for or taking yet another test. Or they will be out of medicine altogether at a much younger age. Nearly 70 percent of physicians who have successfully gone through a recertification process say they would quit rather than endure the onerous, costly ordeal again.

One problem is that no one has oversight over the examiners, even though they can deprive a physician of his livelihood. One surgeon told how he had to educate the examiner, who knew nothing about his specialty, writes Dr. Kenneth Christman in the fall issue of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons.

Dr. Christman, who practices plastic and reconstructive surgery in Dayton, Ohio, also notes that specialty boards are treating knowledge as proprietary. Even though a federal court found that a private company cannot own the law, material that physicians must know to obtain certification is being treated as a trade secret to benefit a multi-million-dollar industry.

Dr. Paul Kempen, in the same issue of the Journal, explains that one family physician spent 5 hours completing a “free” computer course for his recertification, only to learn that he had to pay the specialty board $625 to have the credit recorded.

There is no evidence that physicians lose competence as they gain experience. Nor is there any evidence that physicians who recertify provide better care than those who do not.

Regulatory agencies are supposed to protect the public, but they generally end up protecting the industry from competitors, Kempen writes, through a process called regulatory capture. The recertification industry is a special interest group that is co-opting policymakers and political bodies to pad its own revenues. Meanwhile, it increases costs and harms both practicing physicians and their patients.

Physicians are urging state legislators not to enact unproven, costly new requirements on physicians that would be a nonsolution to a nonexistent problem. Patients need more choice of physicians, not less. As highly trained professionals accountable at many levels for the quality of their work, physicians are in a far better position than academic bureaucrats to decide how to upgrade their knowledge and skills.

The Journal is an official publication of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), a national organization representing physicians in all specialties, ( which was founded in 1943 to defend the sanctity of the patient-physician relationship.

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