Maryland enacted a new law regarding advertising by physicians that became effective on October 1, 2012. The new law can be found in the Annotated Code of Maryland, Health Occupations Article, Section 14-503, and is entitled “Advertising.” The intent of Section 14-503 is described as follows: Prohibiting a physician from making specified representations to the public under specified circumstances; authorizing a specified health occupations regulatory board to approve a certifying board if the certifying board requires physicians to meet specified qualifications; altering the authority of a physician to advertise; requiring specified health occupations boards to submit specified information related to advertising by health care practitioners to committees of the General Assembly on or before December 31, 2012; etc.
The new law states as follows:
§ 14-503. Advertising
(a) Representations to public regarding certification. — A physician may not represent to the public that the physician is certified by a public or private board, including a multidisciplinary board, or that the physician is board certified unless:
(1) The physician discloses the full name of the board from which the physician is certified and the name of the specialty or subspecialty in which the physician is certified; and
(2) The certifying board meets one of the following requirements:
(i) The certifying board is:
1. A member of the American Board of Medical Specialties; or
2. An American Osteopathic Association certifying board;
(ii) The certifying board has been approved by the Board; or
(iii) The certifying board requires that, in order to be certified, the physician:
1. Complete a postgraduate training program that:
A. Provides complete training in the specialty or subspecialty; and
B. Is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education or the American Osteopathic Association; and
2. Be certified by the member board of the American Board of Medical Specialties or the American Osteopathic Association in the training field.
(b) Approval of certifying board by Board. — The Board may approve a certifying board under subsection (a)(2)(ii) of this section only if the certifying board requires that, in order to be certified, the physician:
(1) Complete a postgraduate training program that:
(i) Provides complete training in the specialty or subspecialty being certified; and
(ii) Is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education or the American Osteopathic Association; and
(2) Be certified by the American Board of Medical Specialties or American Osteopathic Association in the same training field.
(c) In general. — A physician may advertise only as permitted by the rules and regulations of the Board and subject to subsection (a) of this section.
In addition to this new law, Maryland physicians are also required to comply with the following General Licensure Regulation enacted by the Maryland Board of Physicians:
A. A physician may place advertisements with directories, newspapers, periodicals, and radio or television stations.
B. An advertisement may not contain:
(1) Statements containing misrepresentation of facts;
(2) Statements that cannot be verified by the Board for truthfulness;
(3) Statements likely to mislead or deceive because in context the statements make only a partial disclosure of relevant facts;
(4) Statements intended to, or likely to, create false or unjustified expectations of favorable results;
(5) Statements specifying a fee for professional service which does not include the cost of all related procedures, services, and products which to a substantial likelihood will be necessary for the completion of the advertised service as it would be understood by an ordinarily prudent person;
(6) Statements advertising discounted or free services, examinations, or treatments when there will be an additional charge for any additional services, examinations, or treatments which are performed as a result of and within 72 hours of the initial office visit in response to the advertisement unless the professional services rendered are a result of a bona fide emergency;
(7) Statements conveying the impression that the physician could improperly influence any public body, official, corporation, or any person on behalf of a patient;
(8) Statements containing representations or implications that in reasonable probability can be expected to cause an ordinary prudent person to misunderstand or be deceived;
(9) Statements containing representations that the physician is willing to perform any procedure which is illegal under the laws or regulations of Maryland or the United States;
(10) Statements that state or imply that the physician has received formal recognition as a specialist in any aspect of the practice of medicine unless:
(a) The physician has received this recognition by the following or their successors:
(i) The Board of Physician Quality Assurance before October 1, 1996;
(ii) The American Board of Medical Specialties; or
(iii) The American Osteopathic Association; or
(b) The physician is certified by a board that requires as a prerequisite of certification that the physician:
(i) Maintains certification from an appropriate member board of the American Board of Medical Specialties or The American Osteopathic Association;
(ii) Completes an accredited training program that includes identifiable training in the field of medicine that the physician is advertising as the physician’s specialty; and
(iii) Successfully completes a rigorous examination in the field of medicine the physician is advertising.
C. An advertisement may represent that a physician subspecializes in an area of medicine if the physician first identifies the physician’s specialty.
D. This regulation does not prevent a physician from accurately describing a focus of the physician’s practice in a field within the scope of the physician’s training and board certification.
E. A physician shall also be accountable under this regulation if he uses an agent, partnership, professional association, or health maintenance organization to implement actions prohibited by this regulation.
F. An advertisement may state a range of prices for specifically described services if reasonable disclosure of all relevant variables and consideration is made.
G. The Board shall keep a record of those physicians who have been:
(1) Identified by the Board of Physician Quality Assurance as specialists before October 1, 1996; or
(2) Certified by the American Board of Medical Specialties and the American Osteopathic Association.
The intent of the new physician advertising law and the existing advertising regulations in Maryland is to protect the public. A Maryland plastic surgeon who is certified by the ABMS-member American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) stated in reference to Maryland’s new physician advertising law, “After years of confusion and delay, Maryland patients will now know if a ‘cosmetic surgeon’ is a real plastic surgeon. Given the recent rise in popularity of plastic surgery, many non-plastic surgery trained physicians have been calling themselves cosmetic surgeons and going to weekend courses in an attempt to perform cosmetic surgery. Previously there was no requirement, with many only stating they were ‘board certified.’ Many of my patients were shocked to learn that a ‘cosmetic surgeon’ was in fact a family medical doctor or ER physician with no formal training in plastic surgery. They didn’t even know!” Source
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