Thursday, September 18, 2008

Pre-1986 board certified orthopedic surgeons need not re-certify

The American Board of Orthopedic Surgeons (ABOS) purports to protect patients by ensuring that orthopedic surgeons in the United States are properly educated, trained, competent. To that end, the ABOS implemented a re-certification process as a means to enforce continuing medical education and orthopedic surgeon competency.

Re-certification of orthopedic surgeons is appropriate. However, the re-certification apparently does not apply to orthopedic surgeons who received board certification prior to 1986. Why?

The very orthopedic surgeons that should be re-certified are the older surgeons. How can we be sure that an orthopedic surgeon who received board certification prior to 1986 has taken any continuing education courses? We can't. How does that tweek to the board certification protect orthopedic patients?

From the ABOS.org website:

What Does it Mean to be Board Certified?

Since 1986 the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery has issued time limited certificates. Those orthopaedic surgeons who were certified in 1986 and thereafter must maintain their certification by completing 120 hours of pertinent continuing medical education, undergoing a stringent peer review process to make certain they are respected by their peers and practicing ethical orthopaedic surgery, and taking and passing a written or oral examination. This maintenance of certification process must be performed every seven to ten years.

Maintenance of Certification

Certification by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery means that the orthopaedic surgeon has met the specified educational, evaluation, and examination requirements of the Board.


Chris John Dangles, M.D. (Carle Clinic Association, Urbana, Illinois) was board certified by the ABOS in 1981. If Dr. Dangles had been board certified in the year 1986 or after then he would have been required to take continuing medical education courses to remain current in the field of orthopedic surgery.

If Dr. Dangles had been required to re certify then perhaps I would not have undergone 3 unnecessary orthopedic surgeries, 4 corrective surgeries, nerve repairs and another impending surgery. It has been 8 years for me.

Orthopedic surgery patients should be careful. The field has changed over the years. Make sure your orthopedic surgery is not practicing orthopedic medicine in the "dark ages."

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