Did American Board of Internal Medicine Overreach?

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media , January 13, 2011

It appears that ABIM had sought multi-year suspensions in many cases, according to sources. In some instances, ABIM has sought community service from the physicians, although that has not been detailed. Regardless, there is certainly anger among some physicians over the length and breadth of the investigations, the penalties, how physicians were targeted, and for the kind of infractions involved.   One attorney wrote to HealthLeaders Media that he was able to get his client's matter resolved. "It appeared to me that the ABIM people did not review the evidence before (issuing) their letters," the attorney wrote.

The appeals have certainly dragged out, in some cases, for months. Without characterizing the length of the appeals, most of the physicians who received recommended sanctions arising from the investigation "have pursued appeals through ABIM's standard robust, three-stage appeal process," says Cassel, the ABIM president. 

"Some have been resolved and some are ongoing," Cassel said of the cases. "Each appeal involves unique facts and circumstances."

 Some recommended sanctions have been affirmed, she adds. "In a few instances, recommended sanctions have been rescinded." Cassel also did not elaborate. "In any event, individual proceedings are confidential," she says.

"The recommended sanctions and appeals process reflect ABIM's commitment to maintaining the integrity of the board certification process and fulfilling ABIM's obligation to the public" Cassel says.

As for Wachler, he hopes to see some changes within ABIM procedures as the organization weighs potential disciplinary actions, and seems reconciliatory.

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