About > General Policies
The American Board of Surgery (ABS), being dedicated to the principles of fairness, consistency and nondiscrimination 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.
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 Diplomates and Surgeons in Practice Committee of the ABS Council for evaluation and decision.
With respect to any written or oral 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.
With respect to actions taken regarding Sanctions on Certificate, no request for reconsideration may be made on a matter already reviewed and decided by the Diplomates and Surgeons in Practice Committee unless the underlying state action has been modified or changed.
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 discrimination, 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 to the ABS office (no e-mails or faxes). 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 Diplomates and Surgeons in Practice Committee at its next regular meeting. Within 30 days following the meeting, the requestor shall be notified, in writing, of the Diplomates and Surgeons in Practice Committee action and the reasons therefore.
The decision of the Diplomates and Surgeons in Practice Committee shall be considered final unless the complainant, within 30 days after having been advised thereof, gives written notification to the ABS that they wish to institute a Personal Appeal, requests a hearing, and sets forth the reasons for disagreement with the findings of the Diplomates and Surgeons in Practice Committee.
The process of Personal Appeal consists of two phases: the Informal Hearing and the Formal Hearing.
When a request for a Personal Appeal is received, the hearing shall be scheduled at a regular meeting of the Diplomates and Surgeons in Practice Committee. The appellant shall be notified in writing at least 30 days prior to the meeting of the time and location at which they should appear. The appellant shall be afforded the opportunity to appear in person and present oral and written evidence on their own behalf. The members of the Diplomates and Surgeons in Practice Committee have the right to question the appellant concerning anything in the record or the evidence presented. Upon completion of the hearing the Diplomates and Surgeons in Practice Committee shall, in closed session, reach a finding by majority vote. The appellant shall be notified in writing within 60 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, they may, within 30 days after having been advised thereof, give notification in writing to the Council that they request a Formal Hearing, and setting 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 ABS.
When an appeal for a formal hearing is received, the procedure shall be as follows:
The hearing panel shall consist of at least five current or past Council Members or ABS Directors who have not had a personal relationship 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 ("Hearing Panel").
The appellant will be notified in writing of the identity of the members of the Hearing Panel 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 Hearing Panel, 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 a time and place of regular meetings of Council or Directors, as is most convenient for the Hearing Panel. 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 they so desire, and may present witnesses and other evidence on their 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 ABS, shall have the opportunity to examine all documents and physical evidence considered by the Hearing Panel and to question all witnesses heard by it.
Upon completion of the hearing, the Hearing Panel, in closed session, shall make a determination by simple majority vote. The determination made by Hearing Panel 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: December 2019