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July 1, 2013 Volume 77, Number 7
Numerous State Legislatures Consider Truth in Advertising Legislation in 2013 Jason Hansen, M.S., J.D.


In 2013, more than a dozen states have introduced legislation that would require health care providers to clearly identify their type of license, certification and/or employment title. For example, Michigan House Bill 4524, titled the “Patient’s Right to Know,” would require health care professionals to wear a name tag during patient encounters that clearly identifies the type of license they hold. It also ensures that any advertisements or professional websites created to promote health care services clearly identify the type of license the provider holds and the extent of services they are legally permitted to provide.

This year, both Texas and Maryland adopted similar legislation. Texas Governor Rick Perry signed Senate Bill (S.B.) 945 into law on May 18, 2013, making Texas the 13th state to enact truth-in-advertising legislation. Under S.B. 945, Texas health care providers in hospitals with direct patient care must wear a photo identification badge during all patient encounters (unless precluded by adopted isolation or sterilization protocols). Among other required components of the new law, the provider’s type of license must be included on the badge.

This new law would not have been possible without senior Senator Jane Nelson, who authored the legislation, and House sponsor Representative Sarah Davis. The Texas Society of Anesthesiologists, along with Texas State House member and ASA President John Zerwas, M.D., were the lead advocates on this critical legislation that improves patient safety in hospitals across Texas.

In Maryland, Governor Martin O’Malley signed S.B. 512 on May 16, 2013. This new law requires a health care practitioner who practices in a freestanding ambulatory care facility, a physician’s office or an urgent care facility to wear a badge or other form of identification when providing health care to a patient. The badge or other form of identification must display in readily visible type 1) the health care practitioner’s name and 2) the type of license of the health care practitioner. Each health occupations board must adopt regulations to implement the bill.

The new law built upon legislation passed in 2012, which prohibits a physician from representing 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 and the name of the specialty or subspecialty; and 2) the certifying board meets specified requirements. The Maryland Society of Anesthesiologists (MSA) leadership worked with medical specialty colleagues and state medical societies to pass this incremental legislation.

The ASA Department of State Affairs is available to assist state component societies interested in introducing such legislation. For more information, please contact Jason Hansen at j.hansen@asahq.org.



Jason Hansen, M.S., J.D. is ASA Director of State Affairs.


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