XV. Ethics and Professionalism:
In order to fulfill its public obligations and in order to protect the integrity of the ABNM Certification, ABNM Diplomates are held to a minimum standard of ethical and professional conduct. The ABNM believes that its certification carries an obligation for ethical behavior and professionalism in all conduct. The exhibition of unethical behavior or a lack of professionalism by an applicant, candidate, diplomate or Director of the ABNM may therefore prevent the initial certification or recertification of the applicant or individual, or may result in the suspension or revocation of certification. All such determinations shall be at the sole and exclusive discretion of the ABNM.
Scope of Disciplinary Policy
Unethical and unprofessional behavior is denoted by any dishonest behavior, including, but not limited to: cheating; lying; falsifying information; misrepresenting one's educational background, misrepresenting one’s certification status and/or misrepresenting one’s professional experience; and failure to report misconduct. Unethical behavior also includes the possession, reproduction or disclosure of materials or information, including examination questions or answers or specific information regarding the content of the examination, before, during or after the examination. This definition specifically includes the recall and reconstruction of examination questions by any means.
The ABNM may impose sanctions upon persons who engage in unethical conduct and unprofessional behavior related to ABNM certification. These sanctions may include: non-scoring of or a failing grade on an examination; exclusion from taking certification examination(s); refusal to recertify; being barred from taking future certification examinations; revocation of certification; referral of matters to appropriate authorities, including state medical boards; and other actions that the ABNM believes to be warranted in order to protect third parties, the public, or the ABNM.
A certificate is issued by the ABNM with the understanding that it remains the property of the Board. Any certificate issued by the ABNM may be subject to sanction such as revocation or suspension at any time that the Board shall determine, in its sole judgment that the Diplomate holding the certificate was in some respect not properly qualified to receive it or is no longer properly qualified to retain it.
In the case of a sanction to revoke or suspend certification, the directors of the ABNM may consider and approve sanction for just and sufficient reason, including, but not limited to, any of the following:
Reasons for Sanction
- The Diplomate did not possess the necessary qualifications nor meet the requirements to receive the certificate at the time it was issued; falsified any part of the application or other required documentation or made any material misstatement or omission to the ABNM, whether or not such deficiency was known to the Board.
- Any dishonesty or misconduct in connection with applying for or taking the ABNM examinations.
- False or misleading representation or reporting with respect to ABNM examination status and/or examination scores.
- False or misleading representation or reporting with respect to ABNM certification status.
- The Diplomate engaged in irregular behavior in connection with an examination of the ABNM. Examples of irregular behavior may include, but are not limited to, copying answers from or knowingly giving answers to another individual, using notes during an examination, copying or distributing examination questions, or reproducing and distributing examination materials from memory.
- The Diplomate made a material misstatement or omission of material fact to the Board.
- The Diplomate misrepresented or engaged in improper conduct related to his or her status with regard to board certification, including any misstatement of fact about being board certified in any personal documentation, credentialing documentation, public media or public record, or in any communication.
- The Diplomate engaged in conduct resulting in a revocation, suspension, qualification or other limitation of his or her license, or appointment to practice, or his or her Certification by any other Board, or failed to inform the ABNM of any such imposed sanction.
- The Diplomate engaged in conduct and/or participated in practices, that were deemed to be fraudulent and/or unlawful and that resulted in either a conviction by trial, or, a settlement from a lawsuit either brought against the Diplomate, or, the employer of the Diplomate.
- The Diplomate engaged in conduct that violated the moral or ethical standards of medical practice accepted by organized medicine in the locality where the Diplomate is practicing, resulting in a revocation, suspension, qualification or other limitation of his or her license to practice medicine, or the expulsion, suspension, disqualification or other limitation from membership in a local, regional, national or other organization of his or her professional peers.
- The Diplomate engaged in conduct resulting in the expulsion, suspension, disqualification or other limitation from membership in a local, regional, national or other organization of his or her professional peers.
- The Diplomate engaged in conduct resulting in revocation, suspension or other limitation on his or her privileges to practice in a health care institution.
- The Diplomate failed to respond, or respond timely, as required, to inquiries from the ABNM regarding his or her credentials, or to participate in investigations conducted by the board.
- The Diplomate failed to provide an acceptable level of care or demonstrate sufficient competence and technical proficiency in the treatment of patients.
- The Diplomate failed to maintain ethical, professional and moral standards acceptable to the ABNM.
Any person may register a complaint against an applicant, Diplomate, or a person claiming to be a Diplomate (hereinafter referred to as the “Affected Individual”). The complaint must be in writing and signed and/or arise through routine discovery of the Board. If the ABNM receives complaints or other information indicating that an Affected Individual may have violated these guidelines, the matter shall be referred to the ABNM Ethics Committee. The Ethics Committee shall obtain available information and determine whether the matter warrants further review. If the Ethics Committee decides that further review is warranted, it shall make a recommendation to the ABNM Chairman who will then bring the matter before the full Board. The ABNM Board may request the Affected Individual to authorize release of relevant information from appropriate persons and agencies. Failure to authorize such release, or to respond timely, as required, to a request for a release, may be considered as one factor in determining the appropriateness of sanctions.
The ABNM Board shall consider all available information and after reviewing such information, the Board shall vote to approve an appropriate sanction, if any. If the Board decides to sanction the Affected Individual, the Board at its sole and exclusive discretion shall decide the appropriate sanction to impose from the range of sanctions available to it as set forth above. Any ABNM Director shall withdraw from participation in any matter in which his or her objectivity reasonably might be questioned because of a substantial personal, professional, or other relationship with the Affected Individual or any material witness. If an Affected Individual withdraws from the certification process, or voluntarily relinquishes certification, during the pendency of charges under these guidelines, the ABNM may at its discretion, terminate the matter or continue it and render a decision.
The Affected Individual will be given written notice of the reasons for his or her sanction, the right to appeal the Board’s decision and a summary of the appeal procedures, by express letter courier, or, certified mail, to the last address that the Affected Individual has provided to the ABNM. Subject to the rights to appeal the disciplinary action, sanction is final upon the mailing of the notification.
Upon revocation or suspension of certification, unless the Diplomate exercises his or her right to appeal, timely, as set forth below, the Diplomate shall:
- immediately cease and desist from representing himself or herself as a Diplomate, Certified by the Board;
- return the ABNM certificate and other evidence of certification to the Chairman of the Board;
- have his or her name removed from the list of certified Diplomates; and
- have his or her certification status listed as either Suspended or Revoked, as the case may be.
If a Diplomate exercises his or her right to appeal, timely, as set forth below, the Diplomate shall not be required to take any of the foregoing actions, and shall not have his or her name removed from the list of certified Diplomates or certification status altered until the results of his or her appeal.