Advertising or Soliciting for Patients
Law, rules and regulations, not Alerts, specify the requirements for practice and violating them constitutes professional misconduct. Not adhering to this Alert may be interpreted as professional misconduct only if the conduct also violates pertinent law, rules and regulations, some citations of which are listed at the end of this Alert.
In a competitive practice environment, violations in advertising or soliciting for patients are an increasing concern. While it is common practice for chiropractors to inform the public about the benefits of chiropractic care through media advertising and various promotional activities, you should be well informed about the appropriate use of promotional activities and materials in a professional practice. Generally, licensees must consider the manner in which information is presented to ensure it is not false, fraudulent, deceptive or misleading.
Keep in mind the following when advertising or soliciting patients:
- Repeated attempts to solicit a person who expresses hesitancy or reluctance to schedule an appointment may be perceived as harassment or intimidation, rather than well-meaning persistence.
- Refrain from using scare tactics or threats when attempting to solicit new patients or schedule continued care with current patients. Instead, offer your recommendations on evidence-based knowledge or clinical findings.
- You have the responsibility for substantiating any claims you make relating to professional services or products; the burden of this proof is with you, not your patient.
- Avoid claiming professional superiority in any area of practice. You may inform the public of any practice specialization credential(s) you have earned that are generally accepted by the profession.
- Written authorization and consent from a patient should be obtained prior to using his/her portrayal in a testimonial or demonstration of professional practice. You should include clear disclaimers pertaining to any statement or outcome of care.
- Maintain all advertising copy, transcripts, audio or videotapes for a period of at least one year after their last appearance, and make them available to the State Education Department, if requested.
You are responsible for the content of all advertisements placed in any medium. Remember that sales representatives from marketing, publishing or advertising agencies do not have the legal authority to regulate advertising by licensees; that authority is vested in the Board of Regents. Also, neither the State Board for Chiropractic nor the State Education Department can pre-approve advertisements; you should seek legal counsel from an attorney for such guidance.
Being overly aggressive in recruiting new patients or family members of patients, or in recommending the continuation of care for current patients, may constitute professional misconduct and be a basis for a professional disciplinary action against your license. Also, schemes such as contests, raffles, or discounts for new referrals may be in violation of Regents Rules on Unprofessional Conduct (as cited at the end of this Alert).
Penalties for advertising not in the public interest may range from being issued an Administrative Warning (AW) to revocation of your license. Failure to comply or repeated advertising violations may result in progressively severe disciplinary actions against your license.
Citations of Pertinent Law, Rules or Regulations:
- Education Law, section 6509(9) - "unprofessional conduct"
- Regents Rules, part 29.1(b)(2) - "exercising undue influence"
- Regents Rules, part 29.1(b)(3) - "referral fees"
- Regents Rules, part 29.1(b)(11) - "patient/client authorization of services"
- Regents Rules, part 29.1(b)(12) - "advertising not in the public interest"
- Regents Rules, part 29.2(a)(2) - "harassing, abusing, intimidating patients"