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In 1975, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), through a court decision, established that professional associations were subject to antitrust scrutiny in their attempts at regulating advertising.  This has also pertained to any attempts by medical boards to establish rules governing advertising. 

The FTC has stated that honest and fair advertising promotes safe and fair competition. Restraints on legitimate advertising are restraints against legitimate competition. 

However, it is accepted that any false or deceptive representation or statement a physician makes to mislead consumers as perceived by the consumer, to the consumer’s detriment, will be considered unacceptable. There must be a reasonable basis for any claims made as to safety and quality of care. All statements must be true and confirmable. Although testimonials are not prohibited, they must not be fraudulent or misleading. Photographs may not be used so as to distort actual results. Claims of medical supervision must represent actual physician involvement in the care provided.

If a physician represents him/herself as a specialist, he/she must be prepared to demonstrate training or expertise in a legitimate specialty. Successful completion of training recognized as a prerequisite for Board certification in a medical specialty or subspecialty by either the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) or the Advisory Board for Osteopathic Specialists (ABOS) shall be considered adequate. Anything less shall put the burden of proof upon the physician to legitimize the claim. 

If a physician advertises him/herself as being “Board Certified,” he/she must indicate the full name of the certifying board. This statement must contain the term “Not recognized” if the certifying board is not recognized by the ABMS or by the Advisory Board of the American Osteopathic Association (AOA). 


 -Adopted October 2007