Frequently Asked Questions - Physician Credentials/Practice Specialties

How do I find out if my doctor has a practice specialty?

Physicians can identify their practice specialty on their Medical Board profile and that information is available through the BreEZe Online License Lookup. You can also obtain this information by either contacting the physician’s office directly, reviewing the physician’s and/or medical group’s website, or by contacting the local medical society if the physician is a member. Most physicians have a practice specialty, which is the area of medicine they have received additional training in, but not all physicians have medical specialty certification. Medical specialty certification is a voluntary process granted by a member board of the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), a private organization, or other equivalent board. Board certification is not required by the Medical Board for a physician to practice. (See question below on board certification)

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My physician told me that she was board certified and handed me a card with her board specialty. Is it mandatory for my physician to be "board certified" in her specialty?

There is no current law that requires that a physician be "board certified." However, unless physicians are certified by a specialty board as defined by law, physicians are prohibited from using the term "board certified" in their advertisements. The law does not, however, prohibit the advertising of specialization regardless of board certification status, nor does it prohibit the use of "diplomate, member, approved by," or any other term that is subject to interpretation by prospective patients.

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My physician informed me that he is board certified by "XYZ" specialty board and is advertising in the local newspaper. Is this legal?

Business and Professions Code §651(h)(5)(A) & (B) prohibits physicians from advertising that they are board certified unless they are certified by one of the following: a member board of the American Board of Medical Specialties, a specialty board with the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education accredited postgraduate training program, or a specialty board approved by the Medical Board of California's Licensing Program as equivalent.

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How do I know if my physician is board certified or if he or she is certified by an approved specialty board?

Medical specialty certification is a voluntary process granted by a member board of the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), a private organization, or other equivalent board. Board certification is not required by the Medical Board for a physician to practice; however, pursuant to Business and Professions Code section 651, in California physicians may not advertise that they are board certified unless they have been certified by an ABMS Member Board or an equivalent board recognized by the Medical Board of California. The Medical Board has approved the following specialty boards: American Board of Facial and Plastic Reconstructive Surgery; American Board of Pain Medicine; American Board of Sleep Medicine; and the American Board of Spine Surgery.

Please use the links below to access the ABMS website and other boards recognized by the Medical Board of California and learn more about board certification and whether your doctor is board certified.

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How do I find out if my doctor is licensed or a "real" medical doctor?

You may obtain information about a physician from the Medical Board of California by calling (916) 263-2382, or by viewing a physician's profile through the BreEZe Online License Lookup. You also may want to check the Osteopathic Medical Board's website if you are unable to locate your physician on our website.

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Has my doctor ever been in any kind of "trouble" or had any complaints filed against him?

You may check your doctor's profile through the BreEZe Online License Lookup. Complaints are confidential in California. However, disciplinary action against a licensee is public.

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How do I find out if my doctor has been, or is, licensed in another state?

You may contact the Federation of State Medical Boards located in Euless, TX, at the toll-free number 866-275-2267 for further information about other state medical boards.

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