I always find the ACCME’s Complaints Summaries to be a fascinating read. I wasn’t disappointed this time around.
Restricting Participation in CME
Quick Summary: Someone wanted to participate in a CME activity but got turned away because they weren’t in the “target audience”.
My Commentary: This one made me chuckle, just because I was imagining the scenario where the CME provider told the complainant that they couldn’t do the activity because they weren’t a doctor (or whatever the specific target audience was). Yowza! Interesting to note that technically speaking, a CME provider can restrict access to a CME activity and only allow its identified target audience to participate. It just can’t do so at the behest of a commercial interest – which this provider thought they were doing, but actually wasn’t. And because they weren’t doing what they they thought they were doing, what they did do was OK. Got it? Me neither. Let’s move on.
Role of Commercial Interest Employees as Speakers in CME Activities
Quick Summary: Employees from a commercial interest presented at a CME course and someone thought it was bad. It wasn’t.
My Commentary: This one is kind of sad because it plays into that negative stereotype that speakers from commercial interests are automatically bad. As the ACCME demonstrates here, that’s not true. Sadly, though, for many CME providers the “risk” of having a speaker employed by a commercial interest is too great for them to ever consider it. Maybe it’s not sad, but I do think it’s a shame whenever a specific demographic of individuals is prevented or eliminated from doing something they’re good at because those in charge don’t understand the rules in place. But I digress, as the organization in charge here did use employees from commercial interests as speakers and did so correctly. Huzzah!
Compliance with the Attendance Records Retention Policy
Quick Summary: Someone got mad that they didn’t get their certificate. They did.
My Commentary: I actually feel a little sorry for the ACCME complaints department here (Is that what it’s called? I don’t know…). It has to be kind of annoying to get this sort of complaint (which, c’mon, has to be pretty low on the totem pole of “Bad Things A CME Provider Could Do”), follow-up on it, when, hey-surprise!, there’s actually no requirements to issue certificates of attendance, see that the provider has done everything correctly, and then find out in the end that they did issue a certificate to the person who complained. Kudos to them for due diligence! (side note: I want to make some sort of comment about the type of person who complains directly to the ACCME when they can’t find their certificate, but maybe there was something else going on here, so I’ll hold my tongue.)
Noncompliance with the Attendance Records Retention Policy and the Joint Sponsorship Policy
Quick Summary: Provider works with joint sponsor -> joint sponsor handles participation records -> joint sponsor goes bust -> provider can’t access records -> provider can’t verify physician participation.
My Commentary: Oh snap. Noncompliance due to a joint sponsor going out of business. The moral of the story here is that you can’t play the blame game with the ACCME. The same can be said about obligations to commercial interests based on Letters of Agreement. If you are the CME provider of record on an activity, then you are the one responsible. I’m all for jointly-sponsored activities and have been part of many successful collaborations, but they are not completely devoid of risk. If the joint-sponsor goes down, and you don’t have proper precautions in place, you’re going to have problems.
Improvements Implemented Prior to Notice of Complaint
Quick Summary: Front matter for an internet activity was screwed up. Provider fixes it before ACCME contacts them. CME Director breathes sigh of relief (I made that last part up).
My commentary: Um…they forgot to include the accreditation statement. The accreditation statement. Hoo boy…