American Society of Plastic Surgeons
For Consumers

Truth-in-Advertising and “Surgery by Surgeons” Legislation Introduced in Pennsylvania

As many other states' legislatures adjourn, legislators in Pennsylvania continue to introduce legislation as their session advances. This past week, ASPS submitted written testimony in support of two bills that seek to place important protections on patient safety in the state.

The first bill, House Bill 1282, is a re-introduction of a comprehensive "Name Your Board" truth-in-advertising measure that was not able to successfully pass through both chambers in the 2014 session. The bill, which is also known as the "Health Care Professional Transparency Act," was introduced by State Representative Bryan Cutler.

Designed to reduce patient confusion that results from misleading or deceptive advertisements, the measure places important rules on advertisements for health care services that name a practitioner. The advertisements must identify the type of license, certification, registration or permit held by the individual who will perform the health care service while also being free of any information that misstates or falsely describes the practitioner's profession, skills, training, expertise, education, board certification or licensure. In addition, it reserves the use of the term "board certified" in advertisements for only those who are certified by a member board of the American Board of Medical Specialties, the American Osteopathic Association or a board deemed to have equivalent standards by the state. The measure currently awaits a hearing in the House Committee on Health.

Additionally, ASPS submitted testimony in support of Senate Bill 795, which is designed to ensure that only qualified physicians can perform eye surgery. This legislation seeks to clarify existing statute which states that optometrists cannot perform surgery but does not currently define "eye surgery." The measure would define this term as any surgical procedure in which the human eye or ocular adnexa is altered.

In a memo the sponsor of the bill, Senator David Argall, stated, "This legislation will ensure that individuals who are not licensed, trained or educated in surgery of the eye are prohibited from performing ophthalmologic surgical procedures. Pennsylvania law is clear, only a physician can perform eye surgery; however, what is not clear is what exactly eye surgery is." He went on to say that this issue is critical to the safety of the patients who undergo surgery in the state.

This bill is awaiting a hearing in the Senate Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure and it also has an identical companion measure in the House, HB 1305, introduced by Representative Thomas Murt.

ASPS remains committed to advocating in support of legislation that seeks to protect patient safety. Ensuring that health care advertisements are clear of misleading information and that health care providers' scope of practice appropriately aligns with their training and education remain top priorities for ASPS.