Saturday, April 30, 2016

USA - American Board of Cosmetic Surgery Opposes Legislation that Restricts Patient Choice

The American Board of Cosmetic Surgery stands against discriminatory legislation

CHICAGO, April 29, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- In a landscape of special interest legislation, a problematic trend is appearing in the world of medicine. A series of state-level legislative efforts are attempting to limit the ability of qualified physicians to advertise their services and credentials—under the pretense of truthful advertising and patient safety.

Recent proposals have been introduced that manipulate healthcare transparency campaigns and discriminate against physicians who received fellowship training and certification from boards that are not recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) and American Osteopathic Association (AOA) recognition—two private organizations without government oversight that do not represent the full and growing diversity of medical specialties.

Why it Matters: Patients Have a Right to Accurate Information

These bills aim to stop qualified physicians from accurately advertising their credentials and experience, simply because they are not recognized by certain private organizations with no governmental authority—and the results could be disastrous for patient safety.

"The American Board of Medical Specialties is presented as the sole healthcare authority, but it is not," explains American Board of Cosmetic Surgery president, Dr. Jacob Haiavy. "Truth in advertising is being dictated by their stamp of approval, but this isn't a valid basis for legislation."

Unfortunately, there are physicians who perform cosmetic surgery without pursuing the proper education, training, and experience. The U.S. has no cosmetic surgery residency programs and there are no ABMS-recognized boards that certify physicians in the subspecialty of cosmetic surgery. That is why the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery is so important: it is the only board that exclusively tests and certifies physicians solely in the subspecialty of cosmetic surgery.

Diplomates of the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery come from a variety of surgical backgrounds, have prior board certification, and underwent extensive fellowship training and examination solely in cosmetic surgery. Although many surgical residencies incorporate some aspect of cosmetic surgery in their training, ABCS diplomates must complete a post-residency fellowship that is more comprehensive and focused solely in cosmetic surgery. Yet, under the proposed bills, these highly trained cosmetic surgeons would be forbidden from advertising their added board certification in certain states.

Consistent with national healthcare organizations' credentialing standards, patients should consider a physician's education, training, experience, and proven competence with respect to their healthcare needs. Preventing patient access to this information by anticompetitive or other improper means directly jeopardizes their safety. It hinders their ability to make an informed decision and confuses patients about which physicians have obtained adequate education, training, and experience.

"It is extremely unfortunate that these organizations are working on behalf of private interest groups rather than simply ensuring the public has access to safe health care," states Dr. Haiavy. "Recent legislation is particularly troublesome because the general public does not necessarily know that the ABMS is not federally mandated to uphold safety and ethics in healthcare."

These Restrictions are Unlawful

There are multiple medical and surgical specialties that are legitimate and essential but not recognized by the ABMS, such as American Board of Pediatric Neurosurgery or American Board of Spine Surgery—a fact that is supported by the American Medical Association, whose policy on "Board Certification and Discrimination" opposes discrimination against a physician based solely on lack of ABMS or AOA certification.

These proposed bills also directly violate independent specialty boards' rights to commercial free speech under the First Amendment and Fourth Amendment rights to due process and equal protection.

"It is concerning to see legislation that both violates American Medical Association policy and protects the interests of only a small portion of the medical community rather than patients," Dr. Haiavy states. "The American Board of Cosmetic Surgery and many other non-ABMS boards are dedicated to protecting the safety of the public."

Dr. Jacob Haiavy


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