Ensuring the physicians at your hospital hold specialty certifications can be a great marketing tool. It shows patients that your physicians meet national competency standards. The problem is that not all medical specialties offer certification; although new certifications are offered each year.
Child abuse pediatricians are the latest group of practitioners to gain their own certification. The American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) approved the new child abuse pediatrics specialty in 2006 and the American Board of Pediatrics (ABP) issued the first certification exams this month. Medical staffs can begin verifying practitioner certification status on the ABP Web site in February 2010.
"Board certification is really necessary in a field like this, not just for the legal reasons, not just so you can go to court and be an expert [witness], because a lot of us were already doing that," says Ann S. Botash, MD, professor of pediatrics at the State University of New York (SUNY) Upstate Medical University and director of the University Hospital's Child Abuse Referral and Evaluation (CARE) program in Syracuse, NY.
Rather, Botash says it's helpful in the medical setting when she's working with other pediatricians who are good practitioners, but don't have the same experience in child abuse treatment that she has. The certification may be a deciding factor in a disagreement between two practitioners, one a specialist and the other a generalist, about a diagnosis of child abuse. It's also a helpful indicator for parents who are looking for a specialist in child abuse treatment.
"If you had a child with a heart murmur, do you want the child to see me, a general pediatrician, or do you want the child with the heart murmur to go see the specialist?" Botash says.