I guess it's time for an update and a recap on this controversy. Here's what's happened so far:
From Bob Wachter and the WSJ Health blog we learned that the Arora board review company was harvesting questions from old ABIM exams submitted from memory by past attendees who had taken the exam and teaching its review course from these questions.
Over two thousand diplomats of the ABIM who had attended an Arora course (approved for 42 AMA category 1 CME hours) got a letter from ABIM expressing disappointment in their ethics for not blowing the whistle. A copy of this letter is to be maintained in those diplomats' ABIM files. According to comments on a related WSJ Health blog post many of these physicians feel they did nothing wrong, feel their professional record is unfairly besmirched by this letter and are considering legal counsel.
The ABIM sued Arora for teaching from old test questions.
In the discovery process of that suit emails between course attendees and Dr. Arora were examined, and a smaller number of physicians, 135 or so, were targeted for more severe sanctions (more than just the letter). In addition, a few of that latter group were sued by ABIM.
The three principal issues raised in the whole affair were 1) violation of the terms and conditions for candidates taking the exam (not to divulge exam content), 2) that ABIM test questions are proprietary information and 3) cheating. Premises 2 and 3 are questionable and may be topics for other posts.
The case was recently settled in ABIM's favor.
Meanwhile another board review company, Frontrunners, was being sued by ABIM on similar claims.
Frontrunners initiated an anti-trust counter-suit against ABIM.
I was recently informed by an ABIM spokesperson that a magistrate judge has made a recommendation that the suit by ABIM be decided in ABIM's favor and that the counterclaim was dismissed about a year ago. That's pretty much where I left it.
So what's transpired since then?
Frontrunners has issued an update, seemingly in response to the latest comments from ABIM. This came to my attention in the form of three comments to one of my blog posts. These were long and rambling. I have not posted them here. Readers can find the same material at the Frontrunners site. It is vitriolic, so be warned.
For those who don't want to read the whole thing I offer the following short version, as best I understand it, in the form of a point-counterpoint, minus all the accusations:
Point: ABIM cites a judicial opinion favorable to ABIM in their suit against Frontrunners.
Counterpoint: This was a recommendation by a magistrate judge. It was preliminary, and based on the judge's opinion that Frontrunners was hindering discovery efforts. Frontrunners expresses hope that the case will be decided on its merits.
Point: The Frontrunners counterclaim against ABIM was dismissed about a year ago and there is no suit pending at this time.
Counterpoint: Frontrunners, on their web site, states that the dismissal was based on the four year statute of limitations. However, they allege new damages which might be the basis for a refiling. No claim is now pending.
What's my stand in all this? I don't have enough information to come down squarely on one side. Arora's teaching methods concern me. Frontrunners' combativeness concerns me. Some of ABIM's actions concern me. I will be watching with great interest as this drama unfolds.