MOC can predict disciplinary action against physicians, study suggests

The American Board of Internal Medicine has produced evidence that maintenance of certification requirements could be meaningful for physicians.

A study, conducted by ABIM and published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, found physicians who pass MOC exams to maintain board certification within 10 years of the original certification are more than two times less likely to face disciplinary action from their state medical boards. For physicians who did face disicplinary action, the better they scored on MOC exams, the action was less severe, according to the study.The study builds on previous research that found physicians who become board-certified after their medical training are five times less likely to face disciplinary action than their peers who are not board-certified.

"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," Furman S. McDonald, MD, senior vice president of academic and medical affairs at ABIM and lead author of the study, said in a press release. "This adds to the growing body of evidence demonstrating that MOC is an important factor that can inform the public's choice of physicians."

The pressure is on ABIM to prove its MOC program is meaningful. The MOC program has faced criticism because it is unclear if the program improves patient safety, and with fees ranging from $2,715 to $3,335 per physician on top of preparation, it requires a significant investment from physicians. Some states, such as Texas and Oklahoma, have passed laws to prevent payers and providers from requiring MOC.


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