The American Board of Internal Medicine has settled its lawsuit with two physicians it accused of collecting and disseminating questions from the ABIM's certification exam.
ABIM sanctions 139 docs in exam scandal
The lawsuit was filed in December 2009, and after a lengthy investigation, in June the ABIM formally sanctioned 139 physicians who are accused of collecting and sharing certification exam questions through the Arora Board Review, a Livingston, N.J.-based test preparation service. The affected physicians had their certifications suspended or revoked. As of June 28, related lawsuits filed against five physicians in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia were pending.
A settlement was reached June 10 in the initial lawsuit between the ABIM and doctors Rajender Arora, M.D., and Anise Kachadourian, M.D. The settlement included the surrender of Arora's internal medicine, geriatric medicine and gastroenterology certifications and the stipulation that Kachadourian not be allowed to take the certification exam for several years, ABIM spokeswoman Lorie Slass said. The lawsuit stated Kachadourian had taken and failed the test 10 times.
The court issued a permanent injunction barring Arora, Kachadourian, and the Arora Board Review company and its employees and representatives from copying, distributing, displaying or offering for sale any ABIM-copyrighted materials or any material derived from ABIM exams.
Physicians taking the exam are given written instructions not to discuss exam content and must sign a pledge of honesty not to do so, according to an ABIM news release. In an e-mail supplied by the ABIM and dated Aug. 29, 2007, Dr. Arora reportedly questioned the legality of the pledge. "I know we all have to sign a declaration before we take any ABIM exam," he stated. "In essence we sign something that is against the Constitution of United States. We sign against the free speech of United States citizens."
Christine Cassel, M.D., ABIM president and CEO, said letters were sent June 8 to all 139 doctors informing them that their certification was either revoked or suspended from one to five years "depending on the severity of our evidence of their unethical behavior." The names of those involved are not being directly disclosed, but Cassel said their status has been noted on the ABIM website's physician-certification verification search engine.
Although testing and validating exam questions is a two-year process, Cassel said that new exam questions are being developed and that there should not be delays for doctors seeking internal medicine certification.
Lori Boukas, spokeswoman for the American Board of Medical Specialties, said there is no evidence at this time to believe other specialties are affected.
No contact information was given for Arora Board Review on its website.
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