Thursday, May 22, 2008
Board certification to undergo changes

By Dr. Anthony Policastro

I recently attended the annual meeting of the medical licensing boards. One reason to go to meetings is to learn about trends. There is clearly a new trend for physician board certification. At one time, few physicians were board certified. Then most physicians became board certified in their specialty. The certification was for life. The physician never needed to be certified again. About 15 - 20 years ago that changed. Board certification became a time-limited thing. Most boards required the physician to re-certify every 7 years or so. The re-certification took place through a written exam. It was then good for another 7 years. In December 2007 the American Board of Medical Specialties announced a new program. It still involves a written exam for re-certification. However, it adds more to the program. Written exams could not tell much about a physician's actual practice pattern. They could only tell how he/she answered questions on a test. The new program is called Maintenance of Certification. It has a focus on the actual practice of the physician. It includes chart reviews that allow the physician to make comparison to other physicians or to national standards. The physician can then make changes to the practice. At a later time, another chart review can be done to see if the standards are more frequently met. It includes feedback from the patients. This will allow information about the physician's bedside manner. It will also include patient satisfaction data. This program just started in 2008. Since it will take physicians another seven years for their next written exam to come due, it will be 7 years before it will be fully implemented. After that time, physicians who stay board certified will have made an ongoing effort to do so. It will be more than just studying for a test every seven years. There are many implications for this. The first is related to the State licensing boards. They will have to do more in the future than just rubber stamp license renewals. Continued board certification will be one way to do that. The second is for hospitals. They have to renew credentials for physicians every two years. They have to make sure a physician has done enough to prove his/her competence in the previous two-year period. Continued board certification is one way of doing that. It is likely that there will be some kind of change in payment from insurers related to continued board certification. The board certified physician may get paid more. Patients will be able to use continued board certification, as a way to assure that their physician is staying current. There has not yet been a lot of information about Maintenance of Certification because the program is so new. However, it is very different than what has gone before. We will be hearing a lot more about it over the next 7 years.

Red Cross alerts public of scam The Office of Investigations, Compliance and Ethics has been alerted to communications circulating via e-mail confirming the American Red Cross will be donating $5 million aid to the victims of Myanmar. It then asks for donations to help save lives. It advocates that you make the donations by clicking on the web page, contacting them by an e-mail account or dialing a telephone number. None of these contacts are affiliated with the American Red Cross. The American Red Cross does not advertise for donations using a yahoo domain as a contact address. This is an email scam using the American Red Cross brand, and the Internet Crime Complaint Center of the FBI has been notified. If you received this email, treat it with caution. To avoid becoming a victim of fraud, do not forward any personal information in response to unsolicited and suspicious emails. If you would like to make a donation to the Red Cross, only use the authorized Red Cross website, For information about the American Red Cross of the Delmarva Peninsula, visit or call 800-777-6620.

Stroke support group Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will offer free monthly Stroke Support Group meetings designed for individuals who have survived a stroke and their families and caregivers. Meetings are held the third Thursday of each month at Nanticoke Cancer Care Center, from 1:30 - 3:30 p.m. The meetings will consist of guest speakers and breakaway sessions, in which caregivers and survivors will meet in two groups to discuss concerns, provide support and networking. Refreshments will be provided. Sheila Brant and Joan Burditt, occupational therapists at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital, will facilitate the support group meetings. Pre-registration not required. For more information, call 629-6611, ext. 5121.

Depression support group The Mental health Association in Delaware will be sponsoring a Depression Support Group in Laurel on the second and fourth Thursdays of each month. The meetings begin at 7 p.m. The MHA encourages anyone dealing with a depressive disorder to attend. Register in advance by calling 1-800-287-6423. Peer support groups sponsored by Mental Health Association of Delaware are not intended to replace professional mental health treatment. MHA does not publish support group locations; locations are provided with registration.

Be Healthy Delaware Day planned Governor Ruth Ann Minner and Lt. Governor John Carney have proclaimed Thursday, May 22, "Be Healthy Delaware Day." The Delaware Center for Health Promotion (DCHP), a joint initiative of the University of Delaware and the Office of Lt. Governor Carney, is asking residents to adopt one healthy lifestyle behavior that they normally don't do, and commit to "try it" for the day. Participants in "Be Healthy Delaware Day" select one of five behaviors and commit to practice that behavior on May 22:
  • Engage in at least 30 total minutes of physical activity.
  • Eat smaller portions, or split an oversized restaurant meal with someone.
  • Consume more fruits and vegetables.
  • If you smoke, refrain from smoking for the day.
  • Call and schedule a preventive health screening for yourself. According to DCHP's Director, Marianne Carter, "Our health always seems much more valuable after we lose it. Adopting healthy lifestyle habits is challenging however, the end results - good health and quality of life - are well worth the effort."

  • Oncology symposium planned The Sixth Annual Seaside Oncology Symposium will take place Saturday, Oct. 11, at the Boardwalk Plaza Hotel in Rehoboth Beach. The Tunnell Cancer Center and the Medical Society of Delaware sponsor this annual, half-day symposium to update participants on the diagnosis and management of cancer. It is designed for physicians, nurses and other healthcare professionals. The conference, which begins at 7:30 a.m. and ends with lunch at 1 p.m., is planned and implemented in accordance with the Essential Areas and Policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the joint-sponsorship of the Medical Society of Delaware and Beebe Medical Center. The Seaside Oncology Symposium is supported by unrestricted educational grants from various pharmaceutical companies and programs. Details regarding this year's topics and speakers will be available soon. Hotel reservations may be made directly with the Boardwalk Plaza at 800-332-3224.