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Is Your Doctor Board Certified?

Did you know that not all practicing physicians are board certified?

It’s an astonishing fact but while virtually all medical specialty areas offer national board certification, lack of this certification doesn’t prevent a doctor from engaging in that specialty, or even presenting himself as a “specialist” to the public. There are hundreds, if not thousands in this country that do just that.

Board certification for obstetrics and gynecology, for example, requires a completed residency in that medical field and passing of a written and oral examination. While most pass, not all pass one or both of these exams. Those doctors that fail their certification examinations rarely volunteer that information, nor do the hospitals in which they practice. The vast majority of patients would never know their physician flunked his board exams.

I once represented a young college student and aerobics instructor who was blinded and paralyzed after suffering preventable cardiac arrest when her Ob/Gyn failed to properly treat her postpartum hemorrhage. We were shocked to learn her doctor had failed his board examinations several times and never passed. Despite this, and the 16 lawsuits filed against him for incompetent practices, the hospital still allowed him to treat patients.

More recently, I deposed an anesthesiologist who failed his board on multiple occasions and was still allowed to provide services to a child who nearly died due to his incompetence.

The knowledge that a physician had failed his or her board examinations would dissuade most patients from entrusting their care and welfare to that person. Why is this information not made available to the public? Knowledge is power. Patients and their families are well-advised to always do a background investigation and ask, “are you board certified?” before engaging a physician in their medical treatment.

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