Increased AHPRA Focus on Advertising

21 Apr 2017

sara bird

by Dr Sara Bird

Doctor sitting at her computer

AHPRA has just released the Advertising Compliance and Enforcement Strategy which outlines their approach to ensuring the responsible advertising of health services.

Enforcement tools available under the National Law include the power to:

  • investigate a practitioner’s conduct
  • impose conditions on the practitioner’s registration restricting their ability to advertise their services
  • take disciplinary action in a panel or tribunal and/or
  • prosecute an advertiser of a regulated health service (which may be a registered health practitioner, another person or a business).

The definition of a regulated health service is very broad and is not constrained to direct clinical services.

Currently the maximum penalty for each advertising offence is $5,000 for an individual and $10,000 for a body corporate.

High Risk Advertising Breaches

Certain high risk (critical or major) matters will be identified as suitable for prosecution or disciplinary action from the outset, including advertising practices that:

  • raise concerns of actual harm to consumers
  • make  misleading claims about  curing  serious illnesses, such  as cancer
  • are  targeted at patient groups that  may be particularly vulnerable, such  as advertising that is directed at consumers with serious illnesses or parents of children with certain childhood  conditions that are not easily treated
  • are widespread in a profession, and have potential to have significant adverse impacts on health care choices, and/or 
  • may also involve allegations of a person holding themselves out to be a registered health practitioner or unlawfully using a protected title.

Lower Risk Advertising Breaches

In these cases, AHPRA will write to advertisers to put them on notice that their advertising is non-compliant, give them a timeframe for non-compliant advertising to be amended and advise how compliance will be checked, such as random or targeted audits.

AHPRA has created a new, dedicated Advertising Resources section on their website.

Information about a recent case involving a breach of the advertising requirements can be found here.


This blog contains general information only. We recommend you contact your medical defence organisation or insurer when you require specific advice in relation to medico-legal matters.



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