The American Board of Radiology (ABR) is faced with charges for allegedly violating federal antitrust laws regarding its radiology certification programs, according to a class-action complaint filed February 26 by a radiologist from Tennessee.
The plaintiff, Dr. Sadhish Siva from Murfreesboro Medical Clinic, is claiming that the ABR has resorted to various "anticompetitive, exclusionary, and unlawful actions" to promote its maintenance of certification for radiologists while restricting the growth of competition from new certification providers. Tying its initial board certification product to its maintenance of certification product has allowed the ABR to unfairly retain a monopoly over the certification market since 1994, according to the lawsuit.
The ABR automatically enrolls all radiologists with initial certifications in its maintenance of certification program and charges them an enrollment fee as well as annual fees, which increased by almost 30% for diagnostic radiologists between 2007 and 2013, the lawsuit stated. Since January 2019, the ABR again changed its maintenance of certification product to involve answering questions on a weekly basis throughout the course of the year in what it calls the Online Longitudinal Assessment.
In a position statement, the Council of Medical Specialty Societies (CMSS) has called for a moratorium on the use of the ABR continuing certification exam until the ABR is able to implement a series of recommended changes. The American College of Radiology has backed the CMSS' call for a suspension of continuing certification, offering several additional recommendations in a January 15 letter.
Siva has filed the class-action lawsuit to "recover damages and for injunctive and other equitable relief on behalf of all radiologists required by ABR to purchase [maintenance of certification] products to maintain their initial ABR certifications," according to the lawsuit.