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Professional News
Calif. Clinicians Must Comply With Truth-in-Advertising Law
Psychiatric News
Volume 45 Number 21 page 9-9

California psychiatrists and other physicians have won a long-sought victory with the enactment of a law in September that requires expanded patient notification by clinicians about their highest level of education and the specific licenses they hold.

California physician organizations, including the California Psychiatric Association, waged a two-year legislative battle with advocates for allied health workers before California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the measure (AB 583) to provide expanded "truth in advertising."

The law requires health care providers to communicate in writing to all of their patients their licensure and academic-degree information. It also requires health care practitioners to display this information prominently on their Web sites.

The bill applies to all health care practitioners, with limited exceptions for certain health care facilities and laboratories, including for "a person who provides professional medical services to enrollees of a health care service plan that exclusively contracts with a single medical group in a specific geographic area . . . ."

"The California legislation is the type of measure that psychiatrists, like other medical specialists, wanted to see enacted, because it helps to make patients better informed," said Paula Johnson, a deputy director of APA's Department of Government Relations, in an interview with Psychiatric News.

California is the latest state to address patient confusion about the qualifications of their clinician. Similar patient-notification laws were enacted in recent years in Oklahoma and Florida, said Johnson.

Federal legislation with a similar goal, the Healthcare Truth and Transparency Act (HR 5295), was introduced earlier this year by Rep. John Sullivan (R-Okla.) and is supported by APA. That bill, which would require all health care professionals to fully and accurately inform patients of their qualifications and training, was referred to a committee and has not advanced beyond that stage (Psychiatric News, June 18).

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