Commenting for this proposal will be open until the close of business on Monday, June 5.
Title of Proposal:
Truth in Advertising
On behalf of:
Virginia Society of Plastic Surgeons
Describe the Idea or Issue:
Survival in the modern marketplace requires promotion of one’s practice and credentials in various advertising media. Most practitioners do so ethically, but there currently exists a loophole in Virginia’s health regulations that can be exploited. Virginia’s regulations state under 18VAC85-20-30. Advertising ethics:
D. A licensee shall disclose the complete name of the specialty board which conferred the certification when using or authorizing the use of the term “board certified” or any similar words or phrase calculated to convey the same meaning in any advertising for his practice.
Unfortunately, this language does not specify that such a board has to be a legitimate one. For example, a diplomat of the American Board of Laser Surgery is currently well within his/her rights in Virginia to advertise themselves as "Board-Certified", according to the current regulations. After paying fees and taking an open-book exam, the American Board of Laser Surgery offers “board-certification” and a fancy certificate to virtually anyone, including “non-physician cosmetic practitioners”.
If boards with lower standards are allowed to advertise as board-certified, the term loses its value to Virginia patients seeking an adequately trained and qualified physician.
We suggest changing Virginia’s regulatory code to specify that “board-certified” must refer to an ABMS, AOA, or other boards that maintain similarly high standards of certification.
Although this is a problem being brought forward by the Virginia Society of Plastic Surgeons, this is an issue recognized by many specialty medical societies. Nationwide, there is a coalition of physicians that have approved these efforts in other states and have approved specific language to be included in state regulations. This national Truth in Advertising Coalition includes the following organizations:
Change Virginia’s regulatory code to specify that “board-certified” must refer to an ABMS, AOA, or other boards that maintain similarly high standards of certification.