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Gynecology Board Lifts Ban on Treating Male Patients

Gynecology Board Lifts Ban on Treating Male Patients

January 31, 2014 — The American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology on Thursday reversed a policy barring certified ob-gyns from treating male patients amid continuing backlash against the rules, the New York Times reports (Grady, New York Times, 1/30).

On Sept. 12, the ABOG posted on its website a new, more stringent definition of an ABOG-certified ob-gyn (Women's Health Policy Report, 11/27/13). Among other things, the definition barred treatment of male patients in nearly all cases and required certified members to devote at least 75% of their practice to obstetrics and gynecology.

Complaints Continued After Partial Revisions

The rules prompted complaints from ob-gyns who were screening male patients for anal cancer, as well as from physicians, patients and physical therapists who asked ABOG to make an exception for ob-gyns who treat men for chronic pelvic pain.

In November, ABOG partially revised the definition to permit certified ob-gyns to continue screening men for anal cancer. The board revised the definition again in December, this time to permit ob-gyns to continue treating male patients with pelvic pain, although it prohibited them from taking on new patients with the condition.

On Jan. 10, attorney Tom Curtis threatened to sue ABOG on behalf of ob-gyn David Matlock, who specializes in cosmetic vaginal operations and performs liposuction on men and women, unless the definition's ban on treating male patients was overturned. Curtis argued that the rules violated antitrust laws.

Latest Revision

ABOG on Thursday ended the ban on treating male patients entirely and said that certified ob-gyns must only devote the "majority" of their practice to obstetrics and gynecology, as opposed to 75%.

ABOG spokesperson David Margulies said the board had started considering the changes in November, after the Times published an article depicting physicians' concerns about patients at risk for anal cancer. He said the changes were not related to the threat of a lawsuit (New York Times, 1/30).