In the fall VaSPS newsletter, an article from HealthNewsDigest.com was included that covered a law passed by the Maryland legislature that prevented physicians from advertising their Board Certification without clarifying the specific Board Certification they obtained. It also determined that only Board Certification approved by the American Board of Medical Specialties could be used in advertising. This would prevent a Maryland physician with Board Certification in Family Practice from attending weekend conferences and advertising that he is a “Board Certified” leaving the implication for patients that the physician is a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon.
After seeing the article in the newslwtter, Dr Latane Ware, a Plastic Surgeon from Richmond notified the VASPS that he recalled a regulation in Virginia that did much the same thing. HE WAS RIGHT!
18VAC85-20-30. Advertising ethics.
D. A licensee shall disclose the complete name of the specialty board that conferred the certification when using or authorizing the use of the term “board certified” or any similar words or phrase calculated to convey the same meaning in any advertising for his practice.
For the Board to be able to do anything there must be a complaint. In general, the Board of Medicine has been dealing with these by advisory letters or Confidential Consent Agreements, depending on the facts of the case. An advisory letter is a warning that explains what the physician is doing wrong. A confidential consent agreement is an actual disciplinary action where the offending physician has to agree to certain conditions placed on them by the Board.
What is lacking is a regulation that would, like Maryland and many other states, also limit the use of non ABMS BoardCertification in advertising. Adding regulations to stop this in Virginia as well will be a new objective of the VASPS
To sum it up: SUPPORT BOARD CERTIFICATION TRUTHFULNESS! If you find instances of dishonesty in your community, report it directly to the Board of Medicine or notify the Executive Director of the VASPS with specifics and we will contact the Board of Medicine.