Robin Oshman: Welcome change to state mandates [Connecticut Post]

July 15, 2013

Article as it appeared in the Connecticut Post

In 2005, as part of the landmark medical liability tort reform legislation, the Connecticut General Assembly passed a requirement that physicians shall earn a minimum of 50 contact hours of qualifying continuing medication education (CME) every two years commencing on the first date of the medical license renewal after Oct. 1, 2007. The CME must be in an area of the physician’s practice and reflect the professional needs of the doctor in order to meet the health care needs of the public. Five mandated topics — infectious disease, risk management, sexual assault, domestic violence and cultural competency — were included in the 50 required hours whether they related to the doctor’s specialty or not. These topics were repeated every other year even though the curriculum did not change, thus preventing physicians from taking courses relevant to their specialties such as breakthroughs in cancer research.

Before passage of the law, Connecticut physicians had already met the state’s educational requirements. Doctors used these CME credits to meet the educational requirements for hospital medical staff privileges and board certification. Many of the medical liability insurance carriers also gave premium credits for taking CME courses.

This year, thanks to the notable efforts of Sens. Toni Boucher and Terry Gerratana and Reps. Dan Carter, Theresa Conroy, Kim Fawcett, Tony Hwang, Susan Johnson, Michael Molgano and Prasad Srinivasan, a bill unanimously passed in both the Senate and the House to lengthen the time requirement from two to six years for repeating the five mandated topics. Doctors are still mandated to take the 50 hours of CME credits every other year.

The bill that passed this year also added a sixth mandated CME topic of behavioral health, which, in light of the Newtown tragedy, is understandable. The Fairfield County Medical Association has already scheduled a program on this topic so physicians can meet the behavioral health requirement for medical license renewal.

Robin Oshman, MD, Ph.D., is president of the Fairfield County Medical Association.