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Physician Certification Advertising Rules

Physician Certification Advertising Rules

In September 2018, in response to a Maryland bill promoting competition in physician certification, the U.S. Department of Justice issued an opinion in favor of more board certification options. The DOJ placed a special focus on medical industry influencers who back proposals that impose unnecessary requirements on physicians, which can “constrain the supply of specialized practitioners.”

One such proposal targets physician certification advertising. Laws governing this may differ between states, but most require that advertisements avoid misleading or untrue statements. Under the proposed rule, which has a broader reach, physicians would have the ability to advertise as board-certified only if they are certified with certain boards. This new rule would, in effect, limit competition by discriminating against physicians certified by other certification boards, such as the American Board of Physician Specialties®.

According to the DOJ, Maryland should consider ways to promote competition “by legitimate certifying bodies, consistent with patient health and safety.” As a nationally recognized choice in physician certification, the ABPS fully agrees with the DOJ.

In another case, in December the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery rightly questioned the Medical Board of California’s decision to prevent its surgeons from advertising their board certification.  With elective cosmetic procedures increasing each year, so does the number of unqualified doctors entering the field in order to capitalize on consumer demand. California’s decision, based on its Truth in Advertising legislation, does nothing to mitigate this problem, as it gives monopoly power to a particular certifying body at the expense of patient safety.

At the ABPS, we are committed to providing patients with the best health care possible. Our certification standards are notably stringent for a reason – to ensure that only the most skilled and knowledgeable practitioners go on to achieve board certification. Therefore, any rule that limits physician certification advertising denies patients a measure of access to highly skilled ABPS Diplomates, which limits choice and stifles competition.

By passing rigorous exams and completing several hours of continuing medical education every year, ABPS physicians distinguish themselves as exceptionally dedicated practitioners who are among the leaders in their fields. The expertise that ABPS Diplomates bring to their practice not only boosts the reputation of medical organizations, but also serves to assure patients that they will receive world-class medical care at hospitals where ABPS Diplomates are on staff.

The ABPS believes that competition leads to improved patient care as well as more innovation. No certifying body in this country, no matter how well-established, can be the sole provider of the innovation necessary to continually improve medical care. With more competition comes more opportunities for talented board-certified physicians to improve the lives of the patients they serve.

To learn more about why fair certification advertising rules can lead to better patient care, contact the ABPS today.