Section 133 of the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (South Australia) Act 2010 prescribes rules for advertising health services and reads:
- A person must not advertise a regulated health service, or a business that provides a regulated health service, in a way that -
- is false, misleading or deceptive or is likely to be misleading or deceptive; or
- offers a gift, discount or other inducement to attract a person to use the service or the business, unless the advertisement also states the terms and conditions of the offer; or
- uses testimonials or purported testimonials about the service or business; or
- creates an unreasonable expectation of beneficial treatment; or
- directly or indirectly encourages the indiscriminate or unnecessary use of regulated health services.
- in the case of an individual - $60,000; or
- in the case of a body corporate - $ 120,000.
- A person does not commit an offence against subsection (1) merely because the person, as part of the person's business, prints or publishes an advertisement for another person.
- In proceedings for an offence against this section, a court may have regard to a guideline approved by a National Board about the advertising of regulated health services.
- In this section -
regulated health service means a service provided by, or usually provided by, a health practitioner.
The penalties for contravention have recently been increased and are substantial (as above)
The Medical Board has published Guidelines for Advertising a Regulated Health Service that can be found at: https://www.medicalboard.gov.au/Codes-Guidelines-Policies/Advertising-a-regulated-health-service.aspx.
It has also published specific guidelines for advertising cosmetic surgery: https://www.medicalboard.gov.au/Codes-Guidelines-Policies/Guidelines-for-registered-medical-practitioners-who-advertise-cosmetic-surgery.aspx.
The guidelines are intended to provide guidance to the legislation, but it should be noted that under section 133(3), a Court may have regard to these in considering whether an offence has been committed, so health providers advertising services should be familiar with these guidelines.