Medical Board clarifies difference between advertising and online comment
After significant backlash from medical practitioners the Medical Board of Australia has clarified its position on online comments and advertising.
Recently the MBA released revised advertising guidelines, due to come into effect on 17 March, stating that comments or reviews about a doctor’s clinical care on any internet website are considered testimonials, and as such, a practitioner must take ‘reasonable steps’ to have such comments removed, even if they are unsolicited.
However, last Friday the MBA issued a statement confirming online comment is not always advertising, and saying that there is a clear difference between advertising, which requires an intent to promote the health services, and unsolicited online comment over which practitioners do not usually have control.
The MBA states that the advertising guidelines apply to testimonials in the context of advertising, such as when practitioners use testimonials in a print or television advertisement or to promote their services on their own website or when the testimonials are used by someone advertising the services on their behalf.
However, the Board recognises that practitioners are unable to control what is written about them in a public forum and does not expect practitioners to actively monitor internet sites.