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Check out that doctor!

ATLANTA, July 29 /PRNewswire/ via Individual Inc. --

Patients can now go online to check on a doctor's board certification status or seek out a certified specialist in their area. The American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) has launched the CertifiedDoctor web site at

This new site is the first free online service offered by the ABMS to aid the public in one of the most important decisions they can make today: choosing a doctor.

The ABMS's new web site allows consumer access to two important services. One service verifies any individual physician's board certification status in the 25 recognized medical specialties and over 75 subspecialties. The other service allows one to search for board-certified physicians within a specific specialty and geographic area. The site provides healthcare consumers a free and reliable information source in today's maze of misleading and often confusing data. The only one of its kind on the Internet, the CertifiedDoctor web site is the most comprehensive online database of U.S. physicians, listing only those who are board certified and identifying the specific certification(s) held by each. In addition, a physician's address, phone number, hospital and health plan affiliations can be obtained, as well as links to physicians' web pages.

This new site is another phase in the ABMS's ongoing public education program. One of the goals of this program is to increase public awareness and education of board certification. The ABMS additionally operates a toll-free number (1-800-776-CERT), which provides verification and lists of board certified physicians in each community. The 800-number currently receives over 300,000 annual inquiries from concerned consumers.

"Our goal with the public education program has always been to assist the consumer in identifying specialists in their community certified by the Member Boards of ABMS. Through the CertifiedDoctor web site, we can now provide the public a faster and easier way to access reliable information about a physician's specialty and subspecialty certifications," said Dr. J. Lee Dockery, Executive Vice President of the ABMS.

Many consumers are unaware that over 200 self-designated medical boards exist today, many of which require only an annual membership fee and little or no testing. To become board certified in a medical specialty recognized by the ABMS, physicians must voluntarily complete an additional three to seven years of accredited residency training after medical school and pass rigorous oral and written exams. Most specialties require periodic certification renewal through continued education and exams.

"It's a little known fact that doctors, upon completion of medical school, are legally allowed to practice most specialties without any further education or training in that specialty field," says Michael Cutter, representative of the ABMS. "Additionally, many doctors are guilty of advertising using misleading 'board-certified' credentials and affiliating themselves with one of these self-designated specialty 'boards'."

Created in 1933 as the advisory board for medical specialties, the ABMS is the umbrella organization over 24 member boards of specialty certification that are also recognized by the American Medical Association.

SOURCE American Board of Medical Specialties

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