Doctors who pass a periodic assessment of medical knowledge to maintain ABIM board certification have fewer state medical board disciplinary actions
These findings about Maintenance of Certification (MOC), recently published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, build on previous research that found physicians who pass initial certification exams administered by the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) after medical training are five times less likely to face disciplinary actions than doctors who do not become board certified.
ABIM data indicates that a vast majority of internists pass the certification exam after training and periodic MOC exams through their careers. Even more ultimately pass on subsequent attempts. To explore whether there is an association between MOC exam performance and risk of disciplinary actions from state medical boards, ABIM researchers studied MOC exam results and any reported disciplinary actions for nearly 48,000 general internists who initially certified between 1990 and 2003.
About 2 percent of the population-949 physicians-were disciplined during the study period. Research findings showed that:
"These findings have significant implications for a vast number of patients seeking safe, quality care from general internists," said Dr. Furman S. McDonald, Senior Vice President of Academic and Medical Affairs at ABIM and the lead author of the study. "Though most internists will never face disciplinary actions, the study revealed an important association between medical knowledge as demonstrated on the MOC exam and lower risk of disciplinary actions. This adds to the growing body of evidence demonstrating that MOC is an important factor that can inform the public's choice of physicians."
View the research article in the Journal of General Internal Medicine. (Subscription may be required to access the full article.)
Read more research from ABIM and other organizations about board certification, MOC and physician assessment.
Learn more about the ABIM MOC program, which includes independent assessment options and continuous learning activities that doctors can complete to stay current with medical knowledge.
ABIM Board Certified Doctors Make a Difference
Internists and subspecialists who earn and maintain board certification from the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) differentiate themselves every day through their specialized knowledge and commitment to continual learning in service of their patients. Established as an independent nonprofit more than 80 years ago, ABIM continues to be driven by doctors who want to achieve higher standards for better care in a rapidly changing world. Visit ABIM's blog to learn more and follow ABIM on Facebook and Twitter. ABIM is a member of the American Board of Medical Specialties.