Voices advocating for truth
in medical advertising are being amplified with the help of the American
Society for Dermatologic Surgery Association.
Results from an ASDS Future
Leaders Network consumer survey are being used across the country to convince
lawmakers to adopt or strengthen truth in advertising legislation.
The survey of nearly 1,800
patients reveals that 99 percent of respondents want to know what type of
practitioner is performing their cosmetic medical procedure.
Among other survey results:
- 95 percent want
to know the board certification of their physician.
- 89 percent want
to see level of licensure on print ads.
- 86 percent want
to see full titles spelled out on name badges.
- 73 percent
believe the level of training is the most important factor when selecting their
These results – displayed in
a one-page infographic – have already been distributed by medical groups in New
York, Nebraska and Florida and are expected to be distributed in several other
states. In addition, the American Medical Association sent it to its state
medical association members and national specialty societies.
In New York, the survey results
and infographic were distributed by physicians advocating at the state capitol
for SB 5493, a broad-based truth in advertising bill that requires transparency
in medical advertising through disclosure of medical licensure in
direct-to-consumer communications as well as name tags. It also would prohibit misleading
claims of board certification.
State Sen. Joseph Griffo, the
bill’s author, received a 2013 Patient Safety Hero Award from ASDSA for his
efforts. The bill is co-sponsored by ASDSA, the New York State Society of
Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery, and the Medical Society of the State of
New York, and is strongly supported by a large number of physician
San Francisco dermatologic
surgeon Ashley A. Smith, M.D., initially conducted the survey for her Future
Leaders Network project to discover and report on public perception of various
providers of cosmetic procedures. The respondents had undergone or were
considering various cosmetic procedures, including wrinkle-relaxing injections,
soft-tissue fillers, laser treatments, chemical peels, non-surgical
body-sculpting procedures and liposuction.
Smith sought to determine if false
advertising of medical services were a problem and if patients wanted to know the
credentials of their practitioners.
“Transparency in medical
advertising allows patients to make informed decisions about where to receive
their medical care,” Smith said of her survey. “The public has the right to
“In many ways, the toothpaste
is really out of the tube on scope of practice,” said Smith’s project mentor,
Bruce Brod, M.D., of Lancaster, Pa. “The public is being deceived by ads that
are very misleading.”
Smith said her own experience
as a physician prompted her survey. “As a practicing dermatologist and
dermatologic surgeon, I’ve had a fair number of patients come to me after
having had problems or adverse outcomes from cosmetic procedures by providers
who may not have been adequately trained,” she said. “I started to get
concerned about who was providing cosmetic procedures.”
According to the AMA’s
Advocacy Resource Center, 17 states require disclosure of level of licensure in
any advertisement of health care services. Nine stipulate under what
circumstances physicians can claim board certification.
“At ASDS/ASDSA, we believe
selecting a well-trained proficient physician is the single most important
factor for a successful cosmetic medical procedure,” said ASDS/ASDSA President
Mitchel P. Goldman, M.D. “Dr. Smith’s research highlights the desires of patients
to know who is performing their treatments. We are thrilled this effort is, in
turn, leading to forward progress in the important fight for truth in medical
For more on the survey, see
ASDSA’s podcast, “Who’s Behind the White Coat: Truth in Medical Advertising,”