There are a lot of rumors (some true) about which programs are on probation or are having problems. Since this is important information for applicants, we've done some investigating and here is what we found:
The ACGME has specific requirements that must be met for a program to be accredited. A program site review is done and the Residency Review Committee meets and grants a program accreditation, up to a maximum of 5 years. If there are deficiencies, then the program is granted a two year probation status, then the program is re-visited. If it still is non-compliant with accreditation requirements, a one year probation status is given. If it fails after that one year, then accreditation is withdrawn.
This is important because if your program is on probation, it may be a red flag for impending problems. You don't want to be at a program that shuts down. When that happens, you have to scramble (sometimes without the help of your old program) to find a spot somewhere or have someone pick up your tab for the remainder of training years. Just ask the guys at Maricopa, Wayne State, or Tulane. Some programs who take new residents will require them to do extra time if their training is not up to par. Here are the programs on probation as of 2009-10 academic year:
University Illinois Chicago
University of Mississippi
University of Missouri-Columbia
Cleveland Clinic (Hand)
To see the ACGME list of all programs under probation, click here. Scroll down to the Orthopaedic section and you'll see the program, when it was put on probation and when the next review date is.
For a detailed description of the accreditation process, check out the ACGME website.