Reconsideration and Appeals

Policy outlining the procedure for how requests for reconsideration and/or appeals of board decisions are handled.

Initial Decision

The American Board of Surgery (ABS) may, in its sole discretion, make decisions regarding a candidate’s eligibility to gain admissibility to ABS’s examination processes and may take action regarding a diplomate’s certification per its policies and procedures. Matters involving training requests and exceptions to examination admissibility or application requirements are referred to the Education and Training Committee (ETC) of the ABS Council for evaluation and decision. Matters of credentialing are referred to the Diplomates and Surgeons in Practice Committee (DSIPC) of the ABS Council for evaluation and decision.

Reconsideration of a Decision

Upon a decision by either the ETC or the DSIPC regarding the ABS’s requirements and rules on admissibility and credentialing, an individual (complainant) may request reconsideration of such decisions.

No requests for reconsideration may be made on items defined in the ABS’s Bylaws, which outline the ABS’s purpose, organization, and general requirements.

No requests for reconsideration may be made on the substantive content of ABS’s written or oral examinations, the sufficiency or accuracy of the answers given, or any other matter related to ABS’s administration of its examinations. However, a complainant may request reconsideration regarding potential fraud or misconduct by ABS examiners on any written or oral examination.

No requests for reconsideration may be made by a complainant who does not meet all admissibility requirements or certification requirements as set forth in ABS’ policies and procedures.

Further, with respect to disciplinary sanctions imposed on a diplomate’s certificate, including suspension or revocation, no requests for reconsideration may be made on a matter already reviewed and decided by the DSIPC, unless the underlying state action has been modified or changed, if applicable.

The complainant must make a written request for reconsideration within 30 days of receipt of notice from the ABS for the decision in question. Requests must be sent by mail or by email to the ABS office (no faxes). The request may be accompanied by documentation the complainant considers appropriate to support the request.

The request for reconsideration will be brought before the ETC or the DSIPC at their next regular meeting. Within 30 days following the meeting, the complainant shall be notified in writing of the decision of the ETC or DSIPC.

The decision of the ETC or DSIPC 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 an appeal, requests an Appeal Hearing, and sets forth the reasons for disagreement with the decision of the ETC or DSIPC. If a complainant fails to timely appeal, the determination by the ETC or DSIPC shall become the final decision of ABS.

Appeal of Reconsideration

When a request for an Appeal Hearing is received from an individual (appellant) and granted by ABS, the procedure shall be as follows:

A panel comprised of three current or past ABS Council Members and/or ABS Board Directors (“Appeal Panel”) shall preside over and adjudicate the Appeal Hearing. Panelists will be considered neutral in that they have not had a personal relationship or direct involvement with the education of the appellant, have not examined or graded the appellant, have not participated in the ETC or DSIPC decision that is the subject of the appeal, and have not spoken with ETC or DSIPC committee members about the subject of the appeal.

The appellant shall be notified in writing of the identity of the members of the Appeal Panel and shall have the privilege of challenge for cause only. Such challenges must be made in writing by the appellant within seven (7) days following receipt by the appellant of the notice of panel membership. The Appeal 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 decision.

Further, the appellant shall be notified in writing of the date and time of the Appeal Hearing at least 30 days prior to the date set therefore.

All Appeal Hearings will be virtual, and will take place on a video conferencing platform, unless otherwise noted.

At the Appeal Hearing, the appellant may be accompanied by counsel, if they so desire. The appellant and/or the appellant’s counsel may present information and, subject to the Appeal Panel’s discretion, may present witnesses. Witnesses may not be current members of the ETC or DSIPC who previously rendered the decision(s) that is/are the basis of the appeal. The Appeal Panel may also call witnesses and consider other information as it may deem appropriate. ABS’s counsel may ask questions of the appellant, their counsel, and any witnesses.

The Appeal Panel shall have the discretion to affirm, rescind, or modify a decision by the ETC or DSIPC, or impose an alternative determination.

In its consideration of an appeal, an Appeal Panel shall not be bound by any technical rules of evidence and may consider any information timely submitted by, or on behalf of, the appellant at any stage of the proceeding.

Prior to the Appeal Hearing, the appellant and appellant’s counsel, as well as the Appeal Panel and the legal counsel of the ABS, shall have the opportunity to examine the documentary record (all documents, correspondence and physical evidence) considered by the ETC and/or DSIPC.

Appeal Hearings are not transcribed or recorded.

Upon completion of the Appeal Hearing, the Appeal Panel, in closed session, shall make a determination by simple majority vote. After reaching a determination, the Appeal Panel shall notify the appellant in writing within 30 days of the Appeal Hearing. Such written decisions shall include the factual bases of the decision and a summary of the reasons for the decision. The determination made by the Appeal Panel shall be the final decision of the ABS.

Notwithstanding these procedures, ABS reserves the right to revoke or suspend a diplomate’s Board Certification summarily in extraordinary circumstances.

ABS, in its sole discretion, may notify local credentialing bodies, licensing bodies, law enforcement agencies, program directors, impaired physicians advocacy groups, or others, of any final disciplinary sanctions.

Updated: December 2023

Related Policies
Disclaimer

The links posted within resources are provided for informational purposes only. ABS assumes no responsibility for the content of these websites.

Reading Progress

Related Policies

Replacement of Certificate

Policy outlining how a diplomate may request a replacement of their original ABS certificate.
Read More

Military Activation

Policy regarding active duty military as it relates to ABS examinations.
Read More

Re-entry to Surgical Practice

Policy regarding surgeon re-entry to active surgical practice following a voluntary or involuntary hiatus of two or more years.
Read More
Contact Us
We are here to help answer any questions

Please submit your request through the contact form and our customer service team will get back to you as soon as possible.