Doctors win: AHPRA backflips on web reviews

THE Medical Board of Australia has yielded to pressure from doctors over confusing advertising and social media rules, promising to change the wording of guidelines relating to unsolicited online testimonials.

In a statement issued on Wednesday afternoon, the board said it had decided to change the advertising guidelines to be clearer about the use of testimonials.

“The board has decided that the guidelines need to change to make it clearer that practitioners are not responsible for removing (or trying to have removed) unsolicited testimonials published on a website or in social media over which they do not have control,” it stated.

Until the change is made, the board said AHPRA would apply the rules as they are outlined in FAQs published on its website, and reassured practitioners they would not be responsible for having unsolicited online testimonials removed.

The short-lived new rules, which only came into force last week, stated that a failure by doctors to seek the removal of unsolicited patient comments relating to their clinical work would attract official warnings, fines and prosecution.

However, the board and AHPRA subsequently stated that only testimonials used deliberately to advertise would be in breach.

Confused doctors cried foul on the apparent contradiction, calling on AHPRA and the board to bring the guidelines into line with its public statements.

Melbourne surgeon Dr Jill Tomlinson, who led the AHPRA Action campaign demanding the change, said she was happy that common sense had prevailed and looked forward to seeing the change to the guidelines being officially enacted.