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American Board of Cosmetic Surgery Application For Board Equivalency Is Denied By Medical Board Of California

(press release from California Society of Plastic Surgeons)

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EL SOBRANTE, Calif., Dec. 2 -- In order to avoid patient confusion in selecting a qualified doctor, it is illegal in the State of California for a physician to advertise as being board certified unless that board is recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) or is deemed to be equivalent to an ABMS board by the Medical Board of California. However, a board that does not have this status can be recognized in California, if they demonstrate that their training program is equivalent in scope, content, and duration to an ABMS board. The American Board of Cosmetic Surgery (ABCS), currently not recognized as equivalent to an ABMS board, submitted an application to the Division of Licensing of the Medical Board of California (MBC) to be deemed equivalent.

Following strong opposition by the California Society of Plastic Surgeons (CSPS), the Division of Licensing of the Medical Board of California (MBC) voted unanimously, 7-0, to deny the application of the ABCS to be deemed equivalent to an ABMS Board. The vote occurred Friday afternoon, November 4, 2005, in San Diego.

President of the Licensing Division, Richard Fantozzi, MD, ruled that each side would be given 20 minutes for its presentation. Dr. Fantozzi gave ABCS the opportunity to go first. ABCS used the first portion of its 20 minutes for testimony from an out of state surgeon certified by the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery stating in his opinion that ABCS' training was equal or superior to ABPS training. The second portion of their testimony concentrated on attempting to refute the conclusion of MBC's expert reviewer, Ronald Tompkins, MD, that ABCS was not equivalent.

Dr. Tompkins' report had concluded that granting board certification to three different categories of physicians - general cosmetic surgery, facial cosmetic surgery, and dermatologic cosmetic surgery - was inconsistent with any ABMS board, and that the dermatologic cosmetic surgery requirements were deficient in surgical training.

ABCS's rebuttal to the Tompkins report endeavored to demonstrate that dermatologic training included substantial training in surgery, and they presented several experts to present arguments to that effect. CSPS' opposition followed. Testimony was provided by Malcolm Paul, M.D, President of CSPS; Robert Singer, M.D.; Steve Teitelbaum, M.D.; Jim Randlett, Legislative Advocate for CSPS; and Bob Aicher, Attorney for American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS). Below is a brief outline of the testimony follows:

1. CSPS provided legislative history, stressing the requirement in regulation that the Division "ensure" that ABCS is equivalent, and repeating the finding of MBC's expert reviewer, Dr. Tompkins, that ABCS was not equivalent.

2. CSPS presented a letter from ABMS stating that ABCS was not equivalent, and repeating CSPS' core arguments in opposition.

3. CSPS presented information demonstrating that many ABCS members were advertising "board certification" in violation of the law, and that a significant number of ABCS members had disciplinary actions taken against them by MBC.

4. CSPS presented information that rebutted the ABCS argument that dermatologists have adequate surgical training, showing that all but two ABCS members would be qualified as "board certified" by virtue of the number of unsupervised procedures performed (as opposed to completing a "fellowship" program).

5. CSPS presented information demonstrating that from CSPS' standpoint, the majority of ABCS members and training directors are performing surgeries outside of their area of certification, in violation of ABCS' own rules.

Once CSPS completed its testimony the Division recessed to go into a meeting with the full Board, and re-convened 20 minutes later. When they re- convened, the Division gave ABCS a few minutes to rebut CSPS' arguments, followed by a similar opportunity for CSPS. Dr. Fantozzi then asked for comments by the members of the Division. After little discussion Dr. Fantozzi moved that the application be denied. The vote was unanimous to deny the application. The Division of Licensing felt that the ABCS was not equivalent to an ABMS Board.

California Society of Plastic Surgeons
www.surgery.org


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