Physicians may engage in advertising or solicitation so long as the communication is not false or deceptive. Specifically, making claims of special skills or training without proper credentials constitutes fraudulent conduct and can be grounds for revocation of a professional license. Advertising must be compliant with state laws or physicians may face potential charges of professional misconduct.
According to K.S.A. 65-2836 and K.S.A. 65-2836, a physician’s license may be revoked, suspended or limited if the licensee has committed an act of unprofessional conduct. Included within the definition of unprofessional conduct are the following, all of which relate to physician advertising:
- Solicitation of professional patronage through the use of fraudulent or false advertisements, or profiting by the acts of those representing themselves to be agents of the licensee;
- The use of any letters, words, or terms, on stationery, in advertisements, or otherwise indication that such person is entitled to practice a branch of the healing arts for which such person is not licensed;
- Representing to a patient that a manifestly incurable disease, condition or injury can be permanently cured.
- Advertising professional superiority or the performance of professional services in a superior manner; and
- Advertising to guarantee any professional service or to perform any operation painlessly.
For purposes of the above statutory language, advertisement: is defined as all representations disseminated in any manner or by any means, for the purpose of inducing, or which are likely to induce, directly or indirectly, the purchase of professional services. ‘False advertising” is defined as any advertisement which is false, misleading, or deceptive in a material respect. In determining whether an advertisement is misleading, taken into account is not only representations made or suggested by a statement, word, design, device, sound or any combination thereof, but also the extent to which the advertise fails to reveal facts material in the light of the representations made. K.S.A. 65-2837.
The Kansas Consumer Protection Act also carries penalties for false advertisement. When a physician claims professional superiority, and a suit is filed, the physician can also be sued under the Kansas Consumer Protection Act, placing personal assets in jeopardy.
- Kansas Consumer Protection Act
- Federal Trade Commission Act Section 5
- AMA Code of Medical Ethics’ Opinion on Physician Advertising