Written by Jack Gluckman
At the time of delivering the Semon lecture in 2001 (and for that matter, today), internationally, but particularly in the USA, there was a spate of high profile medical malpractice cases and a growing concern about medical errors. To address this problem, it was decided to introduce a program that would reassure the concerned public that they were receiving quality care. To this end, in the USA, each speciality board was charged with designing a program of recertification and maintenance of certification that would theoretically force the diplomates to remain up-to-date in their knowledge base and skill level. Up till this time, once the diplomate had become “boarded” i.e. graduated from their residency program and taken a written examination, no further assessment of their skill and knowledge level was required other than maintaining a very rudimentary annual continuing medical education (CME) credit hour need that was easily abused.
The program introduced by the American Board of Otolaryngology (ABOto) at that time was well thought out and consisted of many parts including annual assessment of knowledge base, standing in the community, and assessment of quality of care. While it was deemed compulsory, it was however not well received because of the expense and time commitment to the diplomate and has subsequently undergone various modifications.
It was the details of this program that was presented as well as the rationale behind it.