By Brittany L. Moser
Some state legislators see a need for clarity when it comes to health practitioners and the title “doctor.”
The proposed Health Care Practitioner Transparency Act, Senate Bill 191 (2017), would require “advertisements for health care services that name a health care practitioner to identify the type of license held by the health care practitioner and be free of deceptive and misleading information.” The bill, introduced by state Sen. Josh Green of Kona and consponsored by Sens. Breene Harimoto and Karl Rhoads of Honolulu, would also require “health care practitioners to conspicuously post and affirmatively communicate the practitioner’s specific license and related information.”
Green is a medical doctor.
Advertisement is defined as any communication or statement “that names the health care practitioner in relation to the practitioner’s practice, profession, or institution in which the practitioner is employed, volunteers, or otherwise provides health care services,” according to the bill.
The bill cites a 2014 study by the American Medical Society that reveals a misunderstanding from the public when differentiating doctors. As described in the bill, the ABA study found that “nearly twenty-two per cent of patients believe a chiropractor is a medical doctor; thirty-five per cent of patients believe a doctor of nursing practice is a medical doctor; thirty-six per cent of patients believe a psychologist is a medical doctor.”
The bill would also require all health practitioners to wear an identification name tag with a photo when providing health care to patients. Each name tag would contain a recent photo of the practitioner, identify the type of license (for example, “medical doctor,” “advanced practice registered nurse” or “podiatrist”) and state the license’s expiration date.
According to the bill, violators “shall be guilty of unprofessional conduct and shall be subject to disciplinary action by the appropriate licensing authority.” Fees received by a health practitioner who violates the act could also be “rescinded and refunded.”
Practitioners with no direct contact with patients would be exempt.
The bill is dead for the 2017 legislative session, but can considered again in 2018.
Similar legislation has been introduced in other states and in Congress in recent years at the behest of the AMA, which has launched a nationwide advocacy “truth in advertising” campaign at https://www.ama-assn.org/truth-advertising. Green’s bill closely tracks the AMA’s model legislation.