Class Action Suit Filed Against ABPN

On March 6, a lawsuit was filed in Illinois against the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN) with Emily Elizabeth Lazarou and Aafaque Akhter representing the  class of over 25,000 physicians required by ABPN to purchase MOC from ABPN to maintain their initial ABPN certifications.   Please see this news item for a summary.

Maryland Health Care Commission Findings on MOC

On November 7, 2018 the Maryland Health Care Commission (MHCC) issued findings in response to a request by the House Health and Government Operations Committee Chair, Delegate Shane Pendergrass.  Please see this news item for a summary.

DOJ Opinion about MOC

The United States Department of Justice, Antitrust Division (DOJ) was asked to review HB 857 Health Occupations – Physicians – Specialty Certification from the 2018 Maryland legislative session.  A workgroup of the Maryland Health Care Commission is evaluating problems with MOC at the direction of the House Health and Government Operations Committee with the goal of making recommendations for the 2019 session.  While the 15-page DOJ response agrees that competition would be a solution to the MOC monopoly, it also discourages encroachment on hospital privileging procedures or insurance reimbursement. It concludes, “…The Division recommends that Maryland explore ways to promote competition in specialty board certification without unnecessarily interfering with individual business decision-making.”

ABMS issued a statement in response “…While we continue to work with physicians and specialty and medical societies to ensure our programs do not become overly burdensome, we are proud that our certificate represents the highest standard of knowledge and assessment currently available. Accordingly, ABMS continues to welcome an accurate comparison of our programs to other certification programs currently in the marketplace, and we continue to support the right of patients and health systems to determine which program best meets their expectations for high quality specialty care.”

As a reminder, in 2017, the Maryland General Assembly unanimously passed and Governor Hogan signed HB1054, which prohibits certification (and MOC) as a requirement for physician licensure.


In response to more frequent questions from members about what the APA is doing to represent member interests on MOC, the APA created a webpage that outlines its role in MOC and the actions taken.  The APA encourages members to submit feedback and, if interested, join the MOC caucus by selecting it within their Member Profile.  In addition to MOC advocacy, the APA also has resources to help members meet MOC requirements, including:

  • A webpage dedicated to meeting MOC requirements
  • A Psychiatrist’s Guide to MOC, which is available online, and was also mailed in January to ECPs and general members within 2 years of needing to recertify. Those exempt from continuous MOC were excluded.

In addition, ECPs receive a free online subscription to FOCUS: The Journal for Lifelong Learning in Psychiatry, which meets many of the requirements of MOC. They just need to call 888-357-7924 each year to subscribe.

New Option for MOC Part IV

The ABPN has expanded the allowed options for meeting the Improvement in Medical Practice (also known as Performance in Practice, or PIP) requirement for Part IV of Maintenance of Certification (MOC).  Diplomates may now use a “Clinical Module” or a “Feedback Module” to meet the PIP requirement. Prior to the change, instituted in February, the feedback module was not available. (The PIP Unit is a quality improvement exercise designed to identify and implement areas for clinical improvement.)

According to the ABPN website, preapproval is not needed for using a feedback module if the questionnaire or survey meets general competencies. The six general competencies to be reviewed on the feedback forms are medical knowledge, practice-based learning and improvement, interpersonal and communication skills, professionalism, patient care, and system-based practices.  The module can consist of any one of the following feedback methods: patient feedback from five patients, peer feedback from five peers, resident evaluations from five respondents, “360 degree evaluations” from five respondents, institutional peer reviews from five respondents, and a supervisor evaluation from one supervisor. Qualified feedback modules, as well as clinical modules, are listed on the ABPN website.

Information about options for meeting the PIP requirement and about MOC generally is posted on the ABPN’s website.

From March 11, 2016 Psychiatric News

Maintenance of Certification (MOC) Primer

Concerned or confused about Maintenance of Certification requirements? As mandated by the American Board of Medical Subspecialties, the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN) has developed a Maintenance of Certification (MOC) program that includes four components:

  • professional standing,
  •  self-assessment (SA) and continuing medical education (CME),
  •  cognitive expertise, and
  •  Performance in Practice (PIP).

Review the full MOC requirements if your certification is due to expire.

The ABPN encourages all diplomates to update their clinically active status through “ABPN Physician Folios.”  Registration is free, and maintenance of certification activities, (such as CME and PIP’s) can be recorded in a way that tracks your progress and calculates remaining MOC requirements.  Diplomates of the ABPN are required to maintain records of all of their self-assessment activities, CME credits, and Performance in Practice Units. Diplomates must provide their signature attesting to completion of these activities on their applications for the MOC examinations as determined by the phase-in schedule for the ABPN ten-year MOC component requirements. Stay tuned for future articles which will further review the APBN website, featured activities, and upcoming MPS workshops being planned for MOC.
Margo Lauterbach, M.D.