ABEM and their new POS TOS

A guest post! (Finally, a use for my blog)!

So there I was, just cruising the Internet, when I thought to myself, “Jeepers! It’s about time I checked on my ABEM Maintenance of Certification status! Golly, I might be late for the latest LLSA!”

Well, not really. But anyway, there I was on the ABEM website, when I ran into this rather odious new “click here to consent” barrier (see below).

Most of it was pretty standard – I certify everything is true, I won’t cheat on the exam, I won’t share test questions – OK, fine. Then we get to the particularly unsavory bits:

1. a mandatory arbitration clause.

This is a big deal, especially with the whole hubbub with ABIM and their MOC controversy. Essentially you are waiving the right to sue ABEM and must turn things over to an arbitrator, who is almost always going to find in favor of the big company and not you, the individual. And oh by the way, if there’s a dispute, you have to schlep out to Ingham County, Michigan to do this arbitration – not in your home court system.

No me gusta.

Here’s some information on why mandatory arbitration doesn’t benefit you:

TL;DR: pre-dispute mandatory arbitration is biased towards the larger organization and should be avoided at all costs. Given that ABEM is made up of us, the emergency physicians, we should be able to tell our specialty board to take their arbitration clause and shove it.

2. mandatory personal information sharing with Elsevier’s for-profit “Official ABMS Directory”.

The other part that I find undesirable is the mandated information sharing. I hate getting 15,000 tons of locums spam, advertising, and a bunch of other garbage in either my home or my work mail box, to say nothing of the ‘helpful’ phone calls and emails from headhunters trying to fill an EM job in BFE.

And yet, ABEM is mandating that we share our personal information with Elsevier – to then publish in in a for-profit “doctor’s directory”?

To put it bluntly – EFF NO.

I’m an emergency physician. I don’t need to advertise. I don’t need to have people “looking me up” to see if I’m board certified. And oh by the way, I don’t have an “office” – so I use my home address for most of my certification stuff. I definitely don’t want that info out in public, especially given the casual disregard to privacy that is all too prevalent today. In my opinion, the less personal information shared, the better.

But there’s NO WAY to opt out of this information sharing. Emailing or contacting Elsevier goes nowhere. We’ll see what happens with ABEM.

Quite honestly, I find that overall, there’s little regard to doctors’ privacy, because people think “oh, you want people to find you so you get more business”. No, I don’t – not in our specialty. People find me just fine – they look for the big blue H sign on the highway, or the brightly lit sign that says “EMERGENCY – Physician on Duty”. I don’t need ‘helpful’ directories to publish all of my information.

I’ve sent out an email to ABEM, at abem@abem.org and moc@abem.org. You should too.

Let’s fix this before it gets out of control.

Sameer Bakhda, M.D.
Monterey, California
Twitter: @sameerucla


(Many thanks to Dr. Bakhda for the post! FYI, the title is mine, so blame me for that.)


  1. It’s increasingly hard to be private these days. There are the daily and multiple daily emails from commercial firms like pharma pushing something my way, numerous “opportunities” to make some cash/gift card/whatever by filling out some survey, and as mentioned in this post locum tenens opportunities galore.
    Every once in a while I have a fit of unsubscribing I go through, though it doesn’t seem to make any difference.
    I’d like to opt into something I might call “asocial media”, which basically means “don’t send me anything I didn’t ask for.”

  2. As you fight the good fight, consider getting a post office box for your office mailing address. Mine–not even the smallest size–costs me $58 every 6 months. Yes, you shouldn’t have to. But an extra layer of privacy can be relatively cheap

  3. ABEM continues to add layers and layers of requirements, that are useless and don’t add quality. It is all financially driven. They then sent a statement in the mail this year about how it isn’t expensive, etc. Absolutely ridiculous. They have added so much cost and so much useless misery without adding any help or improvement for their members. Time for completely new leadership.

    Many specialities have one time boards then just CME (Anesthesia, ENT, etc,), yet ABEM continues to add useless layer after layer of requirements.

  4. Here are my expenses through ABEM over the years that I have been certified. Recently, they sent a flier in the mail that the expenses are basically the equivalent of buying a latte. This is a good example of why I DON’T buy a latte on my way to work. Would be nice to know what our “Leadership” is getting paid for MOC.

    Examination or Test Cost Payment Date
    2004 Lifelong Learning Self-Assessment Test $90.00 04/19/2004
    2004 ConCert Examination $1,480.00 08/26/2004
    2005 Lifelong Learning Self-Assessment Test $90.00 07/05/2005
    2006 Lifelong Learning Self-Assessment Test $95.00 05/31/2006
    2007 Lifelong Learning Self-Assessment Test $95.00 07/23/2007
    2007 Lifelong Learning Self-Assessment Test $95.00 08/13/2007
    2008 Lifelong Learning Self-Assessment Test $95.00 04/03/2008
    EM 2009 Lifelong Learning Self-Assessment Test $95.00 06/15/2009
    EM 2010 Lifelong Learning Self-Assessment Test $95.00 04/02/2010
    2010 ConCert Examination $1,715.00 04/28/2010
    EM 2011 Lifelong Learning Self-Assessment Test $100.00 10/02/2011
    EM 2011 LLSA CME Activity $30.00 10/02/2011
    EM 2012 Lifelong Learning Self-Assessment Test $100.00 11/05/2012
    EM 2012 LLSA CME Activity $30.00 11/05/2012
    EM 2013 Lifelong Learning Self-Assessment Test $100.00 10/06/2013
    EM LLSA Test Fees N/A 10/06/2013
    EM LLSA Test Fees N/A 10/06/2013
    EM 2014 LLSA CME Activity $30.00 10/19/2014
    EM 2014 Lifelong Learning Self-Assessment Test $100.00 10/19/2014
    Patient Safety LLSA CME Activity $30.00 09/14/2015
    Patient Safety Lifelong Learning Self-Assessment Test $100.00 09/14/2015
    EM 2015 Lifelong Learning Self-Assessment Test $100.00 10/17/2015
    2016 ConCert Examination $1,850.00 03/01/2016
    EM 2016 Lifelong Learning Self-Assessment Test $100.00 10/13/2016
    EMS 2016 LLSA CME Activity $30.00 10/17/2016


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