Check board certification on physicians

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 6, 2007

To the Editor:

My stepfather was recently admitted into the local hospital and eventually died from a very serious illness.

During the first few days of his stay there was some confusion about who his primary physician was, and my family was not updated on his condition.

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Wanting answers to our questions about my stepfather’s care I went to the office of the only physician we’d had contact with, after a few questions about test results, treatment, and who was actually his primary physician.

I asked one more question that changed the tone of an already tepid conversation; was the partner he was covering for a board certified physician?

He was outraged that I’d ask such a question, a legitimate one that all patients should ask their physician I might add, and demanded that I “get out of his office!”

All this from a “professional” that made an already stressful situation even more so … something I’m sure the Hippocratic Oath instructs not to do to a patient or his family.

We live in an age of consumer and provider in healthcare, and I want to urge all consumers to educate themselves before choosing a physician.

Ask if he or she is board certified in the field that’s hung outside on their shingle. If they bristle, find one that will answer your question.

Board certification simply means that a physician graduated from an accredited medical school, completed residency training, and chose to undergo certification where he or she has been judged by a group of certified physicians in a particular specialty to be worthy of certification by a specialty board.

There are also web sites, The American Board Of Medical Specialties (, the Alabama Board Of Medical Examiners (, that can help you verify certification.

We (the consumer) will make sure we take our cars to a certified auto mechanic before we will ask our physician if they’re certified.

If you care anything about your health, and that of your family’s, you would do well to change your priorities.

Terry Lewis