Medical Toxicology Overview
Medical toxicologists are physicians who specialize in the prevention, evaluation, treatment, and monitoring of injury and illness from exposures to drugs and chemicals, as well as biological and radiological agents. Medical toxicologists care for people in clinical, academic, governmental, and public health settings, and provide poison control center leadership. Important areas of medical toxicology include acute drug poisoning; adverse drug events; drug abuse, addiction, and withdrawal; chemicals and hazardous materials; terrorism preparedness; venomous bites and stings; and environmental and workplace exposures.
The American Board of Medical Toxicology (ABMT) was established in 1974 by the American Academy of Clinical Toxicology in recognition of the growing responsibilities placed on physicians who provide a dedicated portion of their professional activities to Medical Toxicology. In 1990, ABMT diplomates voted to investigate recognition within the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) with focus on the issuance of a subspecialty certificate by interested ABMS member boards.
In 1991, ABEM, the American Board of Pediatrics (ABP) and the American Board of Preventive Medicine (ABPM) sought ABMS approval to offer subspecialty certification in Medical Toxicology. In September 1992, the ABMS approved Medical Toxicology as a subspecialty recognizing ABEM, ABP, and ABPM as the sponsoring boards. ABEM is the administering board. The first examination was offered in 1994 and is currently administered every other year.
The first Medical Toxicology certificates expired December 31, 2005. In 2002, diplomates took the Medical Toxicology Certification Examination as their recerification examination. In 2004, the recertification examination was a totally separate, written examination.
The Medical Toxicology Maintenance of Certification program was implemented in January 2006. Medical Toxicology diplomates who are certified in Emergency Medicine (EM) are not required to maintain their EM certification, but must participate in the Medical Toxicology MOC program to maintain valid Medical Toxicology certification. This change became effective on January 1, 2006.
ABEM is responsible for examination development, administration, scoring, and analysis. Each sponsoring board is responsible for credentialing its respective candidates and notifying them of their examination results.
Each sponsoring board appoints members to the jointly sponsored Medical Toxicology Subboard. There are four members from ABEM, two members from ABP, and two members from ABPM.
The primary functions of the subboard are to:
1. Develop examinations in Medical Toxicology
2. Credential individual applicants at the request of individual sponsoring boards.