A dispute over how Texas emergency room doctors become board certified could affect the rest of the country, experts say.
At issue is the training emergency physicians are required to have in order to advertise as board certified, the Houston Chronicle reported Wednesday.
The primary certifying body has been the American Board of Medical Specialties, a 76-year-old association that in 1988 began requiring emergency doctors fulfill a specialized three-year residency.
The Texas Medical Board on Oct. 29 is scheduled to consider a rule change regarding an alternative association, the American Board of Physician Specialities, which does not require doctors to complete a residency in emergency medicine. The group allows doctors to substitute five years in ER practice for such supervised training.
"Texas is the bellwether for the rest of the country," said Dr. Angela Gardner, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians and a faculty member at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. "A lot of states will be watching what happens here."
Leaders of the traditional board say allowing physicians without proper training to advertise themselves as board certified would mislead the public.
Members of the the alternative board say the proposed rule change will undermine the ability of rural hospitals across Texas to staff their emergency departments with board-certified ER physicians.
The Texas Medical Board, over the spring and summer, held meetings to consider revising the rule language.
"This is one of the most divisive issues in emergency medicine in years," said Dr. David Mendelson, the immediate past president of the Texas College of Emergency Physicians. "I hope something gets resolved at the meeting, but we'll see -- I fear the fight will take another generation to die out."