Reconsideration and Appeals

I. Introduction

The American Board of Surgery (ABS), being dedicated to the principles of fairness, consistency and equality in its dealings with its applicants, candidates and diplomates, hereby establishes the following policy with regard to the resolution of questions or dissatisfactions arising from its policies and procedures.

II. Reconsideration

Applicants, candidates and diplomates may request reconsideration of decisions regarding the requirements and rules of the ABS on individual credentials and admissibility to the examinations. These requests are referred to the ABS Credentials Committee for evaluation and decision. With respect to the Certifying Examination, individuals may only request reconsideration regarding potential fraud or misconduct by the examiners, not the content of the examination, the sufficiency or accuracy of the answers given, nor any other matter. No requests for reconsideration may be made on items defined in the ABS Bylaws, which outline the ABS' purpose, organization and general requirements.

Within these guidelines, any applicant, candidate or diplomate who considers an action of the ABS adverse to his or her interest, or to be based upon unfairness, inconsistency or inequality may request reconsideration. The request must be made in writing within 90 days of receipt of notice from the ABS of the action in question. Requests must be sent by mail or fax to the ABS office (no emails). The request may be accompanied by such documentation as the requestor considers appropriate to support the request. The request for reconsideration will be brought before the Credentials Committee at the next regular meeting of that committee, and the decision of the committee shall be reported to the directors of the ABS at their next regular meeting. Within 30 days following the meeting of the directors, the requestor shall be notified, in writing, of the Credentials Committee action and the reasons therefore.

The decision of the Credentials Committee shall be considered final unless the complainant, within 30 days after having been advised thereof, gives written notification sent by mail to the ABS that he or she wishes to institute a Personal Appeal, requests a hearing, and sets forth the reasons for disagreement with the findings of the Credentials Committee.

III. Personal Appeals

The process of Personal Appeal consists of two phases: the Informal Hearing and the Formal Hearing.

A. Informal Hearing

When a request for a Personal Appeal is received, the hearing shall be scheduled at the next regular meeting of the Credentials Committee. The appellant shall be notified in writing at least 30 days prior to the meeting of the time and location at which he or she should appear. The appellant shall be afforded the opportunity to appear in person and present oral and written evidence in his or her own behalf. The members of the committee have the right to question the appellant concerning anything in his or her record or the evidence presented. Upon completion of the hearing the committee shall, in closed session, reach a finding by majority vote. The finding of the committee and any recommendations shall be reported to the directors.

The committee shall report to the directors nothing more than the issue(s) addressed at the appeal and its findings and recommendations. Neither the identification of the appellant nor any of the details upon which the findings and recommendations were based shall be reported nor discussed. The directors may approve the recommendations of the committee or may direct that the action be deferred pending a Formal Hearing before the directors. The appellant shall be notified in writing within 30 days as to the action taken and the reason for it.

In the event the appellant is not satisfied by the action taken as a result of the Informal Hearing, he or she may, within 30 days after having been advised thereof, give notification in writing to the American Board of Surgery that he or she wishes a Formal Hearing, requests such a hearing before the directors, and sets forth the reasons for disagreement with the findings of the Informal Hearing. If no request for a Formal Hearing has been received within the time periods stipulated above, the findings shall be final and binding upon both the appellant and the American Board of Surgery.

B. Formal Hearing

When an appeal for a formal hearing is received, the procedure shall be as follows:

The hearing panel shall consist of at least five directors of the American Board of Surgery who have not had a personal relationship with the appellant or direct involvement with the education of the appellant, who have not examined or graded the appellant, and who have not participated in the committee decision that is the subject of the appeal.

The appellant will be notified in writing of the identity of the directors who will conduct the hearing and shall have the privilege of challenge for cause only. Such challenges must be made in writing by the appellant within 30 days following receipt by the appellant of the notice of membership on the panel. The ABS Executive Committee, advised by legal counsel, shall rule upon the challenge, and its ruling shall be final. The appellant shall be notified in writing of such actions.

Hearings will normally be conducted at the time and place of regular meetings of the directors of the American Board of Surgery. The appellant will be notified in writing of the time and place of the hearing at least 60 days prior to the date set therefor. At the hearing the appellant shall appear in person, may be accompanied by counsel if he or she so desires, may present witnesses and other evidence in his or her own behalf. The hearing panel may also call witnesses and consider other evidence as it may deem appropriate. The appellant and appellant's counsel, as well as the hearing panel and the legal counsel of the American Board of Surgery shall have the opportunity to examine all documents and physical evidence considered by the panel and to question all witnesses heard by it.

Upon completion of the hearing, the panel of directors, in closed session, shall make a determination by simple majority vote. The determination made by the panel of directors shall be final and binding upon the ABS and the appellant, and shall be transmitted to the appellant in writing within 30 days of the close of the hearing.

Updated: November 2007

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