Judge dismisses MOC antitrust suit against ABR

2019 10 31 21 55 4507 Gavel Legal Business 400

A federal judge in Illinois has dismissed a radiologist's lawsuit against the American Board of Radiology (ABR) that charged the organization with antitrust violations related to its rollout of a maintenance of certification (MOC) program for radiologists to maintain their credentials, according to an article on Law360.

Radiologist Dr. Sadhish Siva had sued the ABR, claiming that the group was violating antitrust laws by "tying" its initial board certification for radiologists to a separate program, maintenance of certification. He charged that the ABR was trying to maintain its "monopoly" position in radiologist certification by "misleading" hospitals and payors into believing that MOC was beneficial, according to the article.

The ABR and a number of other physician certification groups several years ago tried to roll out MOC programs as a means of ensuring that doctors maintain their skills by renewing their credentials every 10 years by passing an exam. The rollouts were intensely unpopular with physicians, however, and the ABR and most other groups withdrew their MOC programs in favor of other tools for ensuring physician competence on an ongoing basis.

With respect to Siva's lawsuit, the Illinois judge ruled that the ABR's MOC program did not violate antitrust laws that prohibit "tying," or the practice of selling a product on the condition that the buyer also purchase another product. This is because initial certification and MOC are two separate stages of a multistage process for radiologist certification, rather than two separate products, according to Law360 's article.

The judge also dismissed Siva's claims that the ABR was exercising monopoly power by refusing to recognize another association's MOC program. Siva was given until December 9 to appeal the verdict.

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