Doc takes second crack at suing American Board of Radiology over ‘worthless’ certification requirements

A Tennessee physician is taking a second crack at suing the American Board of Radiology over its certification programs after a judge tossed his original lawsuit back in November.

In his amended complaint, radiologist Sadhish Siva, MD, claims the ABR is illegally tying its initial certification of docs to continuing professional development requirements. The board has built a “monopoly” on rad certification, the amended suit claims, with radiologists shelling out millions for recertifications.

Through 2017—the last period for which data is publicly available—the ABR has forced “tens of thousands” of radiologists to buy “worthless” professional-development products, the suit states, or risk having their credentials revoked. And they’ve amassed $90 million in maintenance of certification fees in the process, Siva claims.

“ABR by its anti-competitive conduct has manipulated certification from a singular training outcome evaluation into a device requiring radiologists to take ABR-administered examinations and tests and partake in other meaningless required activities throughout their careers, despite the fact that [maintenance of certification] has no documented validity,” the suit states. “ABR’s [continuing professional development] product is wholly superfluous and simply superimposes MOC over other already-existing CPD products.”

An ABR spokesman said Monday that the board is not commenting on litigation while it’s still in progress. Siva, meanwhile, deferred comment on the lawsuit to his attorney, C. Philip Curley, who was unavailable to speak this week.

Siva and his attorneys first filed suit against the ABR a year ago in February 2019, seeking class action for their complaint to loop in other affected radiologists. However, an Illinois judge dismissed the claim in November, unconvinced that the group used anti-competitive practices to promote its certification programs. At the time, Judge Jorge Alonso ruled that ABR sells just one product: certification of radiologists.

So, what’s different this time around? Siva and his lawyers are now labeling ABR’s maintenance of certification offering as a continuing medical education-type product. They note that other CME vendors do not sell initial certification. The suit attempts to establish that the first certification and MOC are separate products, and that the American Board of Radiology is violating the law by tying the two together.

The amended complaint, filed Jan. 24 in Illinois District Court, asks a judge to order that ABR “disgorge the amounts by which it has been unjustly enriched.” It also wants the board to be permanently prohibited from reporting radiologists’ certifications as invalid or lapsed, unless they purchase the maintenance of certification product. “MOC is nothing more than a device to force radiologists to pay tens of millions of dollars in MOC-related fees for a redundant, worthless and superfluous CPD product,” the complaint states.