• Undersea and Hyperbaric Medicine Overview


    The subspecialty of Undersea and Hyperbaric Medicine is a discipline that deals with the prevention of injury and illness due to exposure to environments in which the ambient pressure is increased, such as in diving or hyperbaric chamber exposure, and the therapeutic use of high environmental pressure and the delivery of oxygen under high pressure to treat disease. The scope of the subspecialty emphasizes the occupational, environmental, safety, and clinical aspects of diving, hyperbaric chamber operations, compressed air work, and hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

    In 1989, the American Board of Preventive Medicine (ABPM) received approval from the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) to offer a subspecialty certificate in Undersea Medicine to its diplomates. The first examination for this certification was administered in November 1992. In 1993 several ABMS member Boards expressed an interest in changing this certificate so that it would be available to diplomates of all ABMS member boards. During 1993, two meetings were held and a survey was sent to the membership of the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society. Based on the results of these undertakings, on February 4, 1994, the ABPM filed a letter of intent to change the Certificate of Added Qualifications in Undersea Medicine to a Certificate of Special Qualifications with the ABMS. Since that time, the ABMS has discontinued the use and differentiation of CAQ and CSQ.

    In March 1999, ABPM received approval to change the name of its subspecialty certification in Undersea Medicine to Undersea and Hyperbaric Medicine to more accurately reflect the expansion of practice during the past decade to include regular use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy for a variety of disorders.

    In March 2000, ABEM received approval from ABMS to formalize a collaborative arrangement with ABPM to offer the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medicine subspecialty certification examination to its diplomates. Under this agreement, ABPM also can offer this examination to other ABMS-member board diplomates who fulfill the eligibility requirements.

    The Undersea and Hyperbaric Medicine Examination Committee has two representatives from ABEM and seven representatives from ABPM.  ABPM is the administrative board for this subspecialty.