If you or someone you work with is involved in advertising or promoting the services of a registered health practitioner in Australia, it’s essential that you understand the legal obligations that health professionals must comply with when advertising.
Australian National Law regulates and restricts advertising by health services. As a health practitioner you need to ensure your advertising complies with the National Law and other relevant legislation.
What is the purpose of AHPRA’s Advertising Guidelines?
AHPRA’s advertising guidelines are there to help you get things right when advertising. They make your legal responsibilities clear by explaining the National Law’s advertising requirements.
The guidelines provide useful descriptions of the kinds of advertising that is prohibited, and advise on the use of factual information in advertising. The regulations for advertising products and therapeutic goods at your health service are discussed.
AHPRA’s guidelines also inform you of consequences and penalties that apply if you breach the advertising requirements.
What principals underpin the AHPRA Advertising Guidelines?
AHPRA maintains that advertising by health services needs to be in support of consumers and the public interest.
When you advertise correctly it is a useful way to communicate the health services you offer to the public. Good advertising should help consumers to make informed choices.
Advertising should not contain false or misleading information, as this may compromise a consumers’ health care.
Nor should advertising compel consumers to purchase or undergo a health service that they do not need or require. This is not in the public interest.
What do I need to do?
When advertising your health service, you need to ensure you comply with all relevant legislation. Reading AHPRA’s guidelines can help you do this.
You should also get in touch with the National Board for your own profession. They will have a ‘code of conduct’ document that describes the professional standards expected of practitioners, including when advertising. Make yourself familiar with this code and apply it.
What happens if I breach these guidelines?
A breach of advertising requirements is a criminal offence, and hefty fines apply.
A court may impose a penalty of up to $5,000 for an individual, while a body corporate can be fined up to $10,000.
As a registered health practitioner, you could also face disciplinary action for unprofessional conduct in relation to advertising.
It is well worth your time and effort to ensure your advertising meets the necessary requirements.