Over three years later, he received a letter from Ms. Lynn O. Langdon, Chief Operating Office of the ABIM at the time, that his board certification was suddenly, indefinitely revoked because of claims he "collected and compiled hundred of ABIM examination questions from multiple sources" and that he "sent hundreds of ABIM examination questions" from his email to Arora Board Review. The letter implied he did "not maintain moral, ethical, or professional behavior satisfactory to the Board," engaged in "misconduct adversely affecting " his integrity, and engaged in "behavior that subverts the examination process."
Because the ABIM felt he violated their "Pledge of Honesty," the Board elected to "indefinitely revoke" his certification and "notify the Medical Board in every jurisdiction" that he was licensed.
He had 10 days to appeal that decision through a never-disclosed ABIM "three-stage appeal process" that lasted two years. Following this, he later discovered the ABIM had filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against him.
He describes the ordeal in detail here. In that description, he notes the additional reprimanding of some "2700 physicians," the use of a "spy" sent to the board review course he attended, the secret funneling of millions of dollars of ABIM Diplomate testing fees to create the ABIM Foundation, the raid using federal Marshals of Dr. Arora's home to copy computer files and secure physician's email addresses, and the undisclosed conflicts of interest of Christine Cassel, MD, former President and CEO of the ABIM, none of which were known to Diplomates of the ABIM at the time.
Instead, the ABIM issued a press release that was picked up by the Wall Street Journal and shocked the medical community on June 9, 2010, detailing the sanctioning of 139 physicians for claims of "cheating:"
"Any high-school kid knows that cheating is unfair," said Dr. Christine Cassel, president and chief executive of the ABIM, who called the sanctions "a message and a deterrent."The ABIM subsequently lost the copyright infringement lawsuit against Salas Rushford, but his counterclaim lawsuit filed against the ABIM goes on after being recently moved to Puerto Rico Federal District Court.
The ABIM's move springs from a case involving test-prep firm Arora Board Review, which it sued last year. The ABIM's suit alleged that Arora instructors told class members the review questions were from the actual exam and solicited them to supply the company with additional questions they remembered after taking certification exams.
The ABIM and an attorney for Livingston, N.J.-based Arora both said they are in settlement talks. Arora's website says it has "put [its] business on hold until a settlement is reached in the near future."
Materials seized from Arora in December as part of the case included 2,000 emails and audio and other communications from physicians disclosing exam questions, according to the ABIM.
Based on these materials, the ABIM sued Monica Mukherjee of Washington, D.C.; Anastassia Todor of Aurora, Colo.; Pedram Salehi of Los Angeles; Sarah Von Muller of Tulsa, Okla.; and Frederick Oni of Warner Robins, Ga.
Dr. Mukherjee couldn't be reached for comment. Dr. Todor and Dr. Salehi had no comment. Dr. Oni said he didn't know the questions he purchased were from previous tests.
Dr. Von Muller said courses like Arora's are necessary for busy physicians attempting to get their optional board certification.
Dr. Cassel said she doesn't believe sharing or selling actual questions is common. "We have a great deal of confidence that most people don't cheat on this exam," she said, adding that there are "legitimate board-review programs that continue to function." (The ABIM doesn't offer its own review courses.)
The "hundreds" of allegedly infringing questions used by the course were removed from the pool of questions used on the computerized tests starting in 2009. Doctors who took the Arora course but weren't sanctioned or sued will get letters of reprimand, the ABIM said.
On 7 Nov 2019, the case management order for this lawsuit was published by the federal judge Francisco A. Besosa with the following timeline:
- 29 Nov 2019 - Objections to Case Management Deadlines and all outstanding pleadings due.
- 3 Dec 2019 - Motions to amend the pleadings or add parties to be filed.
- 31 Jan 2020 - initial Case Management and Settlement Conference
- 29 May 2020 - Motions to Dismiss must be filed
- 30 Dec 2020 - All discovery must be completed
- 9 Apr 2021 - Pretrial and Settlement Conference
- 19 Apr 2021 - Trial Shall Begin (09:00AM)
Perhaps now light will shine on the inner dealings of the so-called "voluntary" US Physician Board Certification process that has harmed practicing physicians without accountability or means of due process for years.