Scope of Practice Victory: California Medical Board votes down equivalency bid

Months of hard work by the California Society of Plastic Surgeons resulted in a key victory in scope of practice on Friday, when the Division of Licensing of the Medical Board of California voted unanimously, 7-0,to deny an “equivalency” application of the American Board of Cosmetic Surgeons. The cosmetic board had petitioned the state to accept its training pro-gram as equivalent to that o fan ABMS Board.

While the ABCS attempted to “pack” the hearing, CSPS requested and was granted equal time to present its position at the hearing. Following an attempt by the cosmetic board to convince the panel that its training was, in fact, superior to that of the American Board of Plastic Surgery, members of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery refuted the ABCS claims. CSPS President and ASAPS Past-President Malcolm Paul, MD, asked the Division of Licensing to deny the application in order to protect the public, following presentations by ASAPS Past President Robert Singer, MD, and Steve Teitelbaum, MD. ASAPS legal counselBobAicher and CSPS legislative James Randlett and Tim Madden, CSPS legislative advocates assisted testimony.

A subsequent motion to deny the application met with vocal audience demands that it be phrased as a motion to approve, but the motion was not changed and was accepted unanimously. A victory for all ASPS President Bruce Cunningham, MD, noted that this win demonstrates the important role of state societies in mobilizing grassroots plastic surgeons to fight issues at the local level. “ASPS congratulates the California Society on a key victory,” Dr. Cunningham says. “This was not just a win for California plastic surgeons, but for all of plastic surgery. What happens in California is often an indicator of what will occur throughout the rest ofthe country. We hope that this decision will help convince boards in other states that plastic surgery should be performed by plastic surgeons.”
“The success of these measures is based on a primary cornerstone – local involvement.

The California Society of Plastic Surgeons did a superb job of mobilizing their members and aggressively confronting the scope of practice issue,”says ASAPS President MarkJewell,MD. James Wells, MD, former president of both ASPSand CSPS, provided written testimony for the hearings,which Dr.Paul used in his summation.Dr.Wells says ofthe hearing that,“the medical board did what it was supposed to do – it listened to the consultant that it selected to review this issue,and the consultant couldn’t come up with an ABCS equivalency to an ABMS board.” Dr.Wells noted that the ABCS claim that a one-year fellowship makes its members equivalent to ABPS-certified surgeons is flawed,since the training background ofmany ABCS candidates is widely varied and often includes little to no surgical background. “Plastic surgery is not a one-year learning curve,”he said.

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