Advertising and Public Communications by Physicians
Professional Standards Regarding Advertising and Public Communications by Physicians
Canadian law recognizes advertising by professionals as protected free speech, with such advertising to be regulated to maintain a high standard of professionalism.
- Physicians must ensure that any public communication is compatible with the best interests of the public and upholds the reputation of the medical profession.
- Regardless of the medium, all communication by physicians with the public must not be misleading or deceptive.
Specifically, any communication by physicians with the public must not:
- claim or imply any superiority of a particular physician or service over any other member or services of the profession;
- contain any claims, endorsements or testimonials regarding a physician’s ability or services;
- create unrealistic or unjustified expectations of beneficial treatment or warranties about results;
- offer any inducements for the public to seek a medical service; and
- promote health services or facilities in which they have a financial interest.
When a physician is advertising medical care that is not a publically insured service, the physician has an obligation to communicate that fees will be charged to patients.
- Specialist Representation
Physicians must not identify themselves as specialists unless they are certified, or eligible for certification by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, the College of Family Physicians of Canada or Collège des médecins du Québec.
- Special Interest Identification
When advertising a special interest within their practice, physicians must be able to demonstrate the interest is supported by relevant training, experience, and continuing professional development. If physicians have received certification in a special interest area that is not recognized by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia, they must identify the certifying body.
Advertising is any communication, in any medium, whether spoken, text or image based, that has for one of its purposes, the promotion of the physician, clinic or group with which the physician is directly or indirectly associated.
Public communication is the transmission of information to the public in any medium, including online and social media communications.
College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia:
- Professional Standards Regarding Conflict of Interest
- Professional Standards and Guidelines Regarding the Sale of Products and Services to Patients
Canadian Medical Association:
- Canadian Medical Association Code of Ethics
- Physician Guidelines for Online Communication with Patients
Canadian Medical Protective Association:
The development of this College standard was informed by similar documents produced by the Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons in British Columbia, Ontario and Alberta.
First approved by the Council of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia: December 9, 2005
This document was reviewed and re-approved without changes by the Council of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia: December 10, 2010
Reviewed and Updated: May 25, 2018
Approximate date of next review: 2021