Indiana lawmakers to prohibit deceptive advertising in health care, improve transparency and safety for Hoosier patients

INDIANA – New legislation was passed by the 2022 Indiana General Assembly to improve transparency for health care patients by prohibiting deceptive advertising used to promote the services of health care professionals.

Authored by state Senators Kevin Boehnlein (Greenville) and Liz Brown (Fort Wayne), Senate Bill 239 calls for disciplinary action against a professional if their advertising includes deceptive or misleading information or does not prominently state their profession or license.

Dr. Elizabeth Struble

“We applaud the bill’s authors for their leadership, standing up for patient safety and promoting greater transparency so Hoosiers can better understand who is providing their care,” said Elizabeth Struble, MD, a family medicine physician practicing in North Manchester, president of the Indiana State Medical Association and representative of the Indiana Physician Coalition.

In 2020, an independent survey of consumers found that one out of every four Hoosiers was not confident which medical professional they saw the past few years. Such confusion, the coalition believes, is caused by the “alphabet soup” of abbreviations that are often used to identify members of the health care team: MD, DO, APRN, NP, CRNA, PA, DNP, etc.

To clear up this confusion, a new law was needed to require identification based on the license type, such as a physician, nurse practitioner, nurse anesthetist, physician assistant, and others that are more recognizable by name.

The passage of the bill also limits the use of medical specialty designations to physician specialists, such as anesthesiologists, cardiologists, dermatologists, family practice physicians, ophthalmologists, orthopedists, psychiatrists, surgeons, etc.

Dr. Carrie Davis

“Health care professionals at every level should be proud of their profession and want to help patients make an informed choice when seeking out options for treatment,” said Carrie Davis, MD, a physician and dermatologist practicing in Bloomington, representing the Indiana Academy of Dermatology. “Now, a patient will be able to seek that treatment with confidence knowing they can trust the education, training, and license of the health care expert they’ve chosen to see.”

If signed into law by Gov. Eric Holcomb, health care providers will have until January 2023 to comply with the advertising and marketing provisions.