Avoiding Liability Bulletin – April 2010
As I have previously written, probably on more than one occasion, the general rule on advertising by licensed health professionals is that advertising is permissible so long as it is not false, fraudulent, misleading or deceptive. Some or all of these four words describing unlawful advertising by health professionals may be defined in state law or regulation. Each state may treat this subject somewhat differently, so reference to the particular state’s law may be necessary. With respect to the word “doctor” or the letters or prefix “Dr.,” state law (the Medical Practice Act) in California makes it a crime (misdemeanor) for any person to advertise by using the word “doctor” or the letters or prefix “Dr.” when referring to himself or herself in advertising (e.g., on the Internet, a business card, sign) unless the person is licensed as a physician and surgeon.