I am not a fan of Maintenance of Certification (MOC). I think it’s a time-suck, expensive, and does little to inform the public of much that is useful. I say this from the sidelines because my Board certification in neurosurgery was grandfathered. So, I’m one of the lucky ones. For those who were certified after 1999, they receive time limited certificates, and have to pony up every decade.


One colleague, a neurosurgeon, published on his website” “Board certified, November 2003.” On licensing questionnaire, he was asked “Are you Board certified?” He answered: “American Board of Neurological Surgery.”


Well, it looks like he had not taken his MOC. So, technically, the time limited certificate had expired. His website was not updated for 8 months after the time-limited certificate expired.


The Board of Medicine meted out discipline.


The Board listed a number of mitigating factors in limiting its disciplinary action.

  1. Respondent is still a member of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) and is taking examinations for his re-certification within the next few months.
  2. Respondent did not intentionally falsely advertise his Board certification.
  3. Respondent immediately removed the representations regarding his board certification when they were called to his attention.
  4. Respondent has cooperated in the investigation of the allegations related to this Agreed Order. Respondent neither admits nor denies the information given above. To avoid further investigation, hearings, and the expense and inconvenience of litigation, Respondent agrees to the entry of this Agreed Order and to comply with its terms and conditions.


The outcome certainly could have been worse.


  1. Respondent shall correct the advertisement and representations m all websites, including those websites for which he controls the content, regarding his board certification(s) within two weeks of the date of the entry of this Order. Respondent shall notify the Compliance Department in writing within 10 days if he experiences any difficulty in making those corrections.
  2. Within one year from the date of the entry of this Order, Respondent shall enroll in and successfully complete a total of eight hours of continuing medical education (“CME”), approved for Category I credits by the American Medical Association, in the topic of ethics or risk management, approved in writing in advance by the Executive Director or their designee. To obtain approval for a course, Respondent shall submit in writing to the Compliance Division of the Board information on the course, to include at least a reasonably detailed description of the course content and faculty, as well as the course location and dates of instruction. Respondent shall submit documentation of attendance and successful completion of this requirement to the Compliance Division of the Board on or before the expiration of the time limit set forth for completion of the course. The CME requirements set forth in this paragraph shall be in addition to all other CME required for licensure maintenance.
  3. At all times while Respondent is under the terms of this Order, Respondent shall give a copy of this Order to all hospitals, nursing homes, treatment facilities, and other health care entities where Respondent has privileges, has pending an application for privileges, applies for privileges, or otherwise practices. Within 30 days of being first contacted by the Compliance Division of the Board following entry of this Order, Respondent shall provide to the Compliance Division of the Board.


Lesson: If you are Board certified, and choose not to take MOC (or if you fail MOC), and you have a time-limited certificate that has expired, do a quick review of your website and marketing material. Also, pay attention to how you answer questions on license renewals and re-credentialing for privileges. An innocent oversight can make the pain of MOC even worse.


Just saying.