Eye :: Ophthalmologists support truth in advertising bill

The American Academy of Ophthalmology applauds the introduction of legislation to address misleading advertising by non-physicians that can lead to patient confusion about their provider?s qualifications.

Ophthalmologists, who are medical doctors, are part of a coalition of specialty organizations whose goal is to eliminate patient uncertainty about the education, training and credentials of their health care providers.

The Healthcare Truth and Transparency Act of 2007, (H.R. 2260) introduced May 10 by Reps. John Sullivan, R-Okla. and Jim McDermott, D-Wash., protects patients by strengthening the Federal Trade Commission?s enforcement against limited-licensed health care providers, who are not medical doctors (MDs) or doctors of osteopathic medicine (DOs), intervening when they make false or misleading misrepresentations about their qualifications, education and training.

?This legislation is needed to protect patients, and we are excited to join in the effort to educate the public about this issue,? said Catherine G. Cohen, the Academy?s vice president for governmental affairs. ?Our goal is to end patient confusion. Patients tell us again and again that they want this information and that they are confused by some marketing practices. Often patients believe they are seeing a medical doctor when, in fact, they are not.?

A telephone poll of 1,000 adults conducted in 2006 by Ipsos U.S. Express Omnibus Survey showed that the American public is largely unaware of the difference in education and training between limited-license health care practitioners and medical doctors. When educated they want to see an MD, so they want information on who is or is not an MD. The survey found 86 percent of Americans support federal legislation that would make it easier for patients to understand the qualifications of their health care professionals and 90 percent believe that someone who is not a medical doctor should make it clear to the patient before they provide treatment.

“All providers are of vital importance to our health care system, but deceptive advertising and misrepresentation of qualifications are a real concern,” added Rep. Sullivan. “The Healthcare Truth and Transparency Act of 2007 is a first step in addressing these important issues and reducing patient confusion.”

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