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What State Legislators Need to Know About  Physician Board Certification Advertising

Physician board certification is one tool hospitals and healthcare systems use to advance patient safety and quality of care. But, this benefit is under threat by recent legislative bills regarding truth in advertising.

Proposed Guidelines Misleading

Capitol Buildings in Tallahassee, FloridaOver the past four years, there has been a rigorous push for new laws which would limit highly qualified physicians certified by the American Board of Physician Specialties (ABPS) from advertising as board-certified. Under most current laws, physicians are prohibited from intentionally misleading the public with their advertising. For instance, a doctor who is board- certified in family medicine cannot advertise himself or herself as board certified when only practicing dermatology.

Many proposed laws limit a physician’s ability to advertise as board-certified and will only allow them to state so, if the certifying body is an American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) board. This means that physicians certified by ABPS, a nationally recognized board, or other credible organizations, would be required to also have certification through the ABMS. Only then would they be allowed to advertise themselves as a board-certified physician. As written, these new rules discriminate against otherwise qualified physicians, limiting the public’s ability regarding physician choice. In addition, legislators unintentionally are creating a monopoly.

Proponents believe the new rules are necessary to protect the public. In actuality, they are profoundly misleading because they effectively predicate that a certifying organization’s legitimacy is based on whether it is a member board of the ABMS. To put it in plain terms, the only way you could drive your Ford is if you also buy a Chevy.

Clearly, the proposed laws are designed to stifle competition. ABPS maintains that the ABMS is driving legislation that produces a monopoly. It’s a case of regulatory capture in which the ABMS has lassoed policy makers, legislators, and other regulatory agencies into creating regulations that will further ABMS’ own ends. We encourage legislators to act against these blatantly prohibitive self-serving proposed laws by ensuring ABPS physicians are included in advertising legislation or by opposing bills that specifically exclude them.

Healthy Competition

ABPS believes that fair competition in the healthcare industry leads to innovation and advancements, all for the betterment of patient care. We proudly maintain a spirit of inclusion that not only broadens career opportunities for talented and dedicated physicians, but also enhances the credentials of medical organizations while improving patient confidence and safety.