Challenge to Residency Training Thrown Out – Judge Dismisses Daniel v. ABEM Lawsuit

A federal judge upheld an earlier recommendation that a 13-year-old antitrust lawsuit challenging the requirements for emergency physician certification be dismissed.

Gregory F. Daniel, MD, later joined by more than 100 other physicians who are not residency trained in emergency medicine, sued the American Board of Emergency Medicine (ABEM) in 1990, claiming that their practice experience should allow them to take the certification exam, and that ABEM is conspiring to restrain trade and exclude non-certified emergency physicians from practice.

On June 20, US District Judge Richard Arcara granted the defendants? motion to dismiss the case and entered a final judgment in favor of ABEM.

The plaintiffs can still appeal with the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, and must file a notice of intent to do so by the end of July. Representatives for the plaintiffs could not be reached for comment.

ABEM, which was formed in the 1970s, administers a certifying exam in emergency medicine where physicians, once deemed eligible, may become ABEM certified in emergency medicine as a specialist if they pass the written and oral examinations. Many physicians attained certification though the so-called ?practice track,? which required 7,000 hours and 60 months practice in emergency medicine, among other criteria. The practice track closed in 1988 when formal residency training in emergency medicine became a required prerequisite for eligibility to take the ABEM exam.

Residency training can by the only real path to certification. All specialties started with a ‘practice track’ because it was a brand new specialty, docs with vision tried it out, and it their specialty made sense and was accepted enough that then formal training was set up to produce more of the specialists.

This suit was a bad idea to start with, and hasn’t gotten any better with time.