After months of protest from doctors and patients, a professional group that certifies obstetrician-gynecologists has lifted a ban it imposed in September and says its members are free to treat men.
The decision, announced Thursday by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology, was a reversal of its September directive.
The uproar began last fall soon after the board, based in Dallas, posted on its website a directive that prohibited OB/gyns from treating male patients, except in certain circumstances, such as circumcising newborns, treating transgender people or helping couples with infertility or genetic problems. The board also said members had to devote at least 75 percent of their practice to obstetrics and gynecology.
The board warned that failure to comply with the directive, “may result in loss of certification.”
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Although board certification is voluntary and not required by law, doctors need it to work because most hospitals and insurers insist on it, as do many patients.
In an interview in November, the group’s executive director, Dr. Larry Gilstrap, said the board’s action was meant to protect patients and the integrity of the specialty because some gynecologists were practicing other types of medicine, such as treating men for low testosterone or performing liposuction and other cosmetic procedures on women and men.
The first reaction against the ban came from gynecologists who were screening men at high risk for anal cancer, using techniques similar to those used to detect cervical cancer in women. Those doctors also feared the ban would interfere with a government-funded study on the cancer.
The board said Thursday that the ban on treating men is gone, as is the requirement that members devote at least 75 percent of their practice to obstetrics and gynecology. Now, the board says members must devote “a majority” of their practice to the specialty.