Ethics and Professionalism

The American Board of Surgery believes that certification by the ABS carries an obligation for ethical behavior and professionalism in all conduct. The exhibition of unethical or dishonest behavior or a lack of professionalism by an applicant, examinee or diplomate may therefore cause the cancellation of examination scores; prevent the certification of an individual, or result in the suspension or revocation of certification at any subsequent time; and/or result in criminal charges or a civil lawsuit. All such determinations shall be at the sole discretion of the ABS.

Unethical and unprofessional behavior is denoted by any dishonest behavior, including: cheating; lying; falsifying information; misrepresenting one's educational background, certification status and/or professional experience; and failure to report misconduct. The American Board of Surgery has adopted a "zero tolerance" policy toward these behaviors, and individuals exhibiting such behaviors may have their examination scores cancelled; be permanently barred from taking ABS examinations; be permanently barred from certification; reported to state medical boards, and/or legally prosecuted under state or federal law, including theft, fraud and copyright statutes.

Unethical behavior is specifically defined by the ABS to include the disclosure, publication, reproduction or transmission of ABS examinations, in whole or in part, in any form or by any means, verbal or written, electronic or mechanical, for any purposes. This also extends to sharing examination information or discussing an exam while still in progress or at any time thereafter. Unethical behavior also includes the possession, reproduction or disclosure of materials or information, including exam questions or answers or specific information regarding the content of the examination, before, during or after the examination. This definition specifically includes the recall and reconstruction of examination questions by any means and such efforts may violate federal copyright law.

All applicants, examinees, or diplomates must fully cooperate in any ABS investigation into the validity, integrity or security of ABS examinations. All ABS examinations are copyrighted and protected by law; the ABS will prosecute violations to the full extent provided by law and seek monetary damages for any loss of exam materials.

Possession of a currently valid, full and unrestricted state medical license is an absolute requirement for certification. If a state medical license after final decision is probated, restricted, suspended, or revoked, this will trigger a review by the ABS Credentials Committee at its next meeting. The committee will review the action, and determine if any action is required in regard to the diplomate's certificate in surgery. Normally the state action will be duplicated in regard to the certificate, but the Credentials Committee after review may choose at its discretion to adopt either a more lenient or more stringent condition on the certificate if warranted by the nature of the disciplinary infraction.

Updated: March 2015

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