Ethics in Advertising

Download PDF

18VAC85-20-30. Advertising ethics.

A. Any statement specifying a fee, whether standard, discounted or free, for professional services 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 shall be deemed to be deceptive or misleading, or both. Where reasonable disclosure of all relevant variables and considerations is made, a statement of a range of prices for specifically described services shall not be deemed to be deceptive or misleading.


B. Advertising a discounted or free service, examination, or treatment and charging for any additional service, examination, or treatment which is performed as a result of and within 72 hours of the initial office visit in response to such advertisement is unprofessional conduct unless such professional services rendered are as a result of a bona fide emergency. This provision may not be waived by agreement of the patient and the practitioner.


C. Advertisements of discounts shall disclose the full fee that has been discounted. The practitioner shall maintain documented evidence to substantiate the discounted fees and shall make such information available to a consumer upon request.


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.


E. A licensee of the board shall not advertise information which is false, misleading, or deceptive.  For an advertisement for a single practitioner, it shall be presumed that the practitioner is responsible and accountable for the validity and truthfulness of its content.  For an advertisement for a practice in which there is more than one practitioner, the name of the practitioner or practitioners responsible and accountable for the content of the advertisement shall be documented and maintained by the practice for at least two years.


F. Documentation, scientific and otherwise, supporting claims made in an advertisement shall be maintained and available for the board’s review for at least two years.