Attorney serves important role on Physician Certification Board


 By Mike Scott

Legal News
Charles Murphy may not be a radiologist – but he sure does get a chance to attend some of the most high-profile scientific conferences on the specialty in the country.
In fact, Murphy, a partner in the Birmingham office of Clark Hill, is so valued personally and professionally that he has been appointed to the American Board of Physician Specialties (ABPS) Board of Certification in Radiology as a public member. 
What exactly does that mean?
Think of it like being a director for a public company, Murphy said. The role of a public member requires good judgment and managerial skills, but it values the perspective of an outside and independent professional.
“I think the concept of what (an independent) director should provide has been ingrained in the minds of companies since Enron and WorldCom,” Murphy said. “Following Sarbanes-Oxley, the image of how an independent director should provide has been pretty set.” 
Murphy works in Clark Hill’s Litigation Practice Group where he has substantial litigation and arbitration experience in health care and other areas. For most of his career, Murphy has represented individual physicians, physician groups and hospitals, including cases involving staff privileges, interference with hospital contracts, physician shareholder disputes, state certification requirements, and licensing board investigations and hearings. He also has been an arbitrator in physician staff privilege hearings at hospitals. 
In reality, Murphy’s day-to-day work focuses more in securities and construction litigation. However, he has a strong background in health care litigation and counseling as well and has represented a number of physicians and medical associations during his career. He has maintained many of those relationships on a social level and therefore it wasn’t a huge surprise when the ABPS Board of Certification nominated Murphy as its public member for a two-year term earlier this summer.
One of the major responsibilities of this board is that it monitors adherence to certification and recertification for physicians around the country. The board reviews questions that are posed to physicians applying to become board-certified in radiology. Board members must ensure that the questions asked will accurately reflect physicians who have demonstrated the core competencies of a board-certified radiologist, and that they will thus provide high-quality patient care. 
Board-certified physicians must also demonstrate knowledge in high-tech, scientific medical knowledge related to their specialty, Murphy said. He will be invited to several scientific conferences each year and works with other board members to revise, as needed, the process of certifying applicants.
There are public members in other specialty board governed by the ABPS, one of three major physician rating agencies in the United States. What’s unique about the ABPS is that there is at least one public, or non-physician member, on each board. Other public members include professionals in such industries as business, higher education, and organized religion. 
“Our objective is to maintain the certification process that helps to ensure the healthy, safety and quality of patient care,” Murphy said. 
It’s a role he is comfortable in filling. Murphy has served as the president of the Legal Education Committee of the State Bar of Michigan in the past. In that role he assessed questions that are part of the annual Michigan Bar Exam, and took a lead in deciding any changes or modifications that needed to be made. 
“That’s an experience that generally translates quite well to one of my roles here,” Murphy said. 
But as the lone public member on the Radiology board, Murphy also will be called upon by his peers to provide a valuable third-party voice. 
“The idea is that a public member can help modify the behavior of a board in a positive way because we’re not closely tied to (physician) specialties,” Murphy said. “I know in the coming months that our board members plan to meet with members of Congress to discuss health care issues, so this is a very important time to be a part of this board.”
As a public member, he will be asked to give that guidance and feedback that might otherwise be difficult for physician board members to provide, said Dr. Craig Smith, the most recent chair of the Board of Certification in Radiology. 
“Charles’ health care industry perspective will help him represent the public’s point of view on medical board certification,” Smith said. “He will provide an added dimension to board certification review and planning, different from that of scientific experts. “ 
ABPS was the first certifying organization to include public members on its member boards, representing the public’s interests in patient welfare. ABPS public members collaborate with medical professionals to bring critical insight to the physician certification process that contributes to the health and safety of patients.
The Board of Certification in Radiology is a Member Board of the ABPS, the official certifying body of the American Association of Physician Specialists. AAPS is a not-for-profit organization with headquarters in Tampa, Fla. ABPS is the first and only certifying body to require non-remedial medical ethics training as part of its physician recertification program.
“It is an honor,” Murphy said. “Given the trust put in me by these (physicians) and fellow board members, I look forward to supporting it any way I can.”