(October 13, 2015) Websites are a form of advertising commonly used by Naturopathic Doctors. Websites can provide convenience for current patients, educate the public (and potential patients) about the principles and practice of naturopathy and outline the services that you provide.
As such it is important that your website contain current and correct information so as not to provide misinformation about you as a ND or about the profession as a whole.
In order to gather information about the profession, College staff often refer to members’ websites. Recently, while in the process of looking for some general information about the profession, staff have noticed other information posted on members’ websites that provides inaccurate and at times misleading information. Consequently some of the postings are in contravention of statutes, regulations and the College’s standards of practice. For example after reviewing several websites the following issues were found:
- unauthorized use of title (contravention of the Medicine Act and Standard of Practice for Restricted Titles);
- advertising tests not authorized by Health Canada (contravention of the Standard of Practice for Scope of Practice);
- using testimonials (contravention of section 28 of the Professional Misconduct Regulation);
- advertising specializations (contravention of section 31 of the Professional Misconduct Regulation and the Standard of Practice for Restricted Titles);
- unauthorized laboratory tests (contravention of Regulation 683 made under the Laboratory and Specimen Collection Centre Licensing Act);
- providing therapies outside of scope (contravention of section 8 of the Professional Misconduct Regulation).
We trust that many NDs regularly review their sites to ensure they are providing the appropriate information and services to current and potential patients and have made the necessary changes since proclamation on July 1, 2015. It is up to every member to ensure that any advertising of the member complies with the Standard of Practice for Advertising. This includes websites that the member controls directly and websites which the member does not control (e.g. if you are an employee or independent contractor at an organization it is your responsibility to ensure that any information relating to you is in compliance with College requirements).
The College does not purposely review websites in order to find unauthorized or inappropriate content, however if the College does become aware of such content a Registrar’s Report will be made to the Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee. In the case of a contravention of a statute or regulation, a referral to the Discipline Committee is a potential outcome.
Each member is expected to ensure that his or her advertising, including website content, is in compliance with the Standards and Regulations.