Checking Up on Your Doctor

In a step toward increased public education and awareness. the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) has established a toll-free number for the public to check on a doctor's board certification status. The public can verify a physician's credentials by calling 1-800-776-CERT (2378) Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. The ABMS Certification Line operators tell the caller whether a physician is board certified, the year certi-fied, and the board or boards under which the physician has received certification. If a caller requests the name of a board certified specialist, the operator directs him or her to the listing page number in the community directory. The certification line has received more than 300,000 calls in the past year from concerned consumers seeking quality health care. Many physicians are guilty of using misleading "board certified" credentials in advertising and affiliating themselves with non-recognized or self-designated specialty boards. The public usually is unaware that doctors, upon completion of medical school, are legally allowed to practice most specialties without any further education or additional training in their chosen specialty field.

"Recent heightened concern over the quality of health care and selection of the right specialist has encouraged the American Board of Medical Specialties to sponsor an awareness program that allows the public easy access to information previously available only in some libraries and through select medical and state licensing boards," notes J. Lee Dockery, executive vice president.

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