Psychiatrists sue ABPN over its MOC process


“If it is successful, I think the impact will be dramatic,” said Dr. Rosin, an outspoken critic of the ABPN’s MOC process. “They’ll essentially have to disband the [MOC] program.”

Paul G. Mathew, MD, a Boston-based neurologist, said he was not surprised by the lawsuit. Dissatisfaction about MOC continues to rise, and resistance grows as more diplomates learn about the financial misdoings and monopolistic nature of the board, said Dr. Mathew, director of legislative affairs for the National Board of Physicians and Surgeons, an alternative board that provides continuing certification for physicians.

Dr. Paul G. Mathew is an assistant professor of neurology, Harvard Medical School/Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Boston

Dr. Paul G. Mathew

“At the end of the day, I hope that the case wins, because diplomates have been forced to expend their time, effort, and money on a product that has scant evidence that it improves practice,” Dr. Mathew said in an interview. “Unnecessary administrative burdens of this nature that do not improve patient care contribute to physician burnout, which is a nationwide epidemic.”

Dr. Mathew hopes to see monetary damages awarded as well as injunctive relief that would enable competition in the MOC market, he said. Such relief would prevent insurance companies and other stakeholders from only recognizing and requiring recertification with ABPN.*

“This would allow physicians the flexibility to recertify with boards like the National Board of Physicians and Surgeons,” he said.

The ABPN, meanwhile, defended its recertification, calling it a credential that is valued by patients, families, and medical organizations as an indicator that physicians have pursued “a meaningful program of lifelong learning sufficient to maintain the competence to provide quality patient care.” In recent years, the board has made improvements to its MOC requirements based on constructive feedback from diplomates and consistent with the evolving standards of the American Board of Medical Specialties, Dr. Faulkner said in the interview.

“Relevant options have been provided for the documentation of self-assessment and performance improvement, and they have been well received by diplomates,” he said. “The ABPN is also in the process of implementing an optional, article-based Pilot Project as an alternative to its secure continuing certification examination. Almost 15,000 ABPN diplomates have enrolled to date in the Pilot Project, and initial feedback from those diplomates has also been very favorable.”

*Correction, 4/5/19: Due to an editing error, an earlier version of this article omitted the word "only" from this sentence.

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