A US professional group that certifies obstetricians and gynaecologists has
loosened a decades-old restriction on its board-certified members treating male
patients, after mounting pressure from doctors and researchers.
The American Board of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (ABOG) had previously said
members could not treat male patients except in specific circumstances, such as
circumcising babies, treating transgendered patients, and helping couples
However, opposition had mounted from gynaecologists and others who said the
policy interfered with medical research and prevented them treating male
patients with chronic
Some obstetricians and gynaecologists had also been treating men for cancer,
problems such as low
testosterone, and cosmetic
procedures including liposuction.
"This change recognizes that in a few rare instances board certified
diplomates were being called upon to treat men for certain conditions and to
participate in research," Dr Larry Gilstrap, ABOG's executive director,
said in a statement.
"This issue became a distraction from our mission to ensure that women
receive high quality and safe health care."
A majority would suffice
The Dallas-based board eliminated requirements that said certified members
treat only women and must devote at least 75% of their practice to obstetrics
and gynaecology, saying instead a majority would suffice.
The policy change matters because board certification, while not legally
mandated, is viewed as a paragon of safety by many hospitals, patients, and
It was intended to protect patients when some gynaecologists who were
board-certified by the group were practicing in areas outside the board's
expertise, such as plastic surgery, ABOG spokesman David Margulies said.
First adopted in the 1930s, the policy had been ignored or opposed by doctors
in some corners over the years, and the board had built a list of complicated
exceptions over the past months, Margulies said.
"The whole thing became a distraction from the idea that we are here to
certify people, to make sure that they have the training they need,"
ABOG says on its website it is an independent, non-profit organization that
certifies obstetricians and gynaecologists in the United States.
It examines and certifies more than 1 700 obstetricians and gynaecologists
and sub-specialists in maternal-foetal medicine, reproductive endocrinology and
infertility, gynaecologic oncology and female pelvic medicine and
reconstructive surgery each year.