Practice Alerts

Laws, 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.

Alert 9: Advertising and Specialty Credentials

No one except physical therapists (PTs) may advertise that they are providing physical therapy services or use the title "physical therapist." However, when not misleading or otherwise prohibited, individuals licensed in chiropractic or podiatry may advertise that they are providing chiropractic physiotherapy or podiatric physiotherapy, respectively, and licensed physicians may advertise their services as "physical medicine."

In order to use an American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) specialty title in the name of a professional corporation, the applicant must present evidence of APTA certification. APTA has eight specialties: Cardiovascular and Pulmonary; Clinical Electrophysiology; Geriatrics; Neurology; Orthopaedics; Pediatrics; Sports; and Women's Health. Use of the term Board Certified Clinical Specialist is limited to individuals meeting APTA certification requirements. While the APTA specialties are the most common and accepted, other organizations are not precluded from developing specialty certifications.

When Board certification does not exist, other titles can be used but require the licensee to bear the burden of proof and substantiate professional superiority as per section 29.1(b)(12)(i)(d) of the Regents Rules.

The term Center is restricted by law to facilities operating under the provisions of Article 28 of the Public Health Law.

Advertising or soliciting not in the public interest includes, but is not limited to, advertising or soliciting that:

  1. is false, fraudulent, deceptive or misleading;
  2. guarantees any service;
  3. makes any claim relating to professional services or products or the cost or price therefore which cannot be substantiated by the licensee, who has the burden of proof;
  4. makes claims of professional superiority which cannot be substantiated by the licensee, who has the burden of proof; or
  5. offers bonuses or inducements in any form other than a discount or reduction in an established fee or price for a professional service or product.

The following have been deemed appropriate means of informing the public of the availability of professional services:

  1. informational advertising not contrary to the foregoing prohibitions; and
  2. the advertising in a newspaper, periodical or professional directory or on radio or television of fixed prices, or a stated range of prices, for specified routine professional services, provided that if there is an additional charge for related services which are an integral part of the overall service being provided by the licensee, the advertisement must so state, and provided further that the advertisement indicates the period of time for which the advertised prices will be in effect.

All licensees placing advertisements must maintain, or cause to be maintained, an exact copy of each advertisement, transcript, tape or videotape thereof as appropriate for the medium used, for a period of one year after its last appearance. This copy must be made available for inspection upon demand of the Education Department;

A licensee must not compensate or give anything of value to representatives of the press, radio, television or other communications media in anticipation of or in return for professional publicity in a news item;

Testimonials, demonstrations, dramatizations, or other portrayals of professional practice are permissible provided that they otherwise comply with the rules of professional conduct and further provided that the following conditions are satisfied:

  1. the patient or client expressly authorizes the portrayal in writing;
  2. appropriate disclosure is included to prevent any misleading information or imagery as to the identity of the patient or client;
  3. reasonable disclaimers are included as to any statements made or results achieved in a particular matter;
  4. the use of fictional situations or characters may be used if no testimonials are included; and
  5. fictional client testimonials are not permitted;

The correct initials permitted in connection with a physical therapist's name are: PT. RPT is not appropriate, nor is SPT for a student.

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Citations of Pertinent Law, Rules or Regulations:
Public Health Law, Article 28 – restricted use of the term "center"
Regents Rules, Part 29.1(b)(12) – advertising or soliciting for patronage
Last Updated: August 11, 2016