Working in health care is often a balancing act. Everyday I am walking a fine line between, for example, not requesting too many CT scans for people presenting with a headache, and at the same time not missing that rare brain tumour. If I fail in the first case Medicare will know where to find me, in the second case AHPRA may be knocking on my door.
God forbid that I ever find myself investigated by AHPRA’s Medical Board. But it could happen of course. We all have our bad days and make mistakes or judgmental errors.
If that happens I need to be sure that the Medical Board knows what it’s doing. This also means AHPRA’s policies and procedures must have no obvious flaws or loopholes.
Yesterday AHPRA published a 5-page long document with frequently asked questions and answers regarding advertising – which is very much welcomed. It helps to understand where AHPRA is coming from. However, the initial comments I read on Twitter and several blogs (see here and here) were not unanimously positive. Many health professionals and consumers feel the document is contradicting the advertising guidelines, and I can see why.
I’ll give an example:
The first page of the FAQ document states that the advertising guidelines ‘do not apply to unsolicited online comment over which practitioners do not have control.’ But… AHPRA’s advertising guidelines say on page ten (Section 6.2.3) that practitioners should have testimonials removed ‘even if they appear on a website that is not directly associated and/or under the direct control or administration of that health practitioner and/or their business or service. This includes unsolicited testimonials.’
Australian health professionals certainly have the right to scrutinise AHPRA’s work and demand clarity.
AHPRA should make amendments to the advertising guidelines now – not in three years time – to make an end to the confusion and maintain its high quality standards – and the trust of consumers and health professions.