25 February 2017

Health Regulation

The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) has reported the landmark conviction of a New South Wales chiropractor for false advertising involving a claimed to be able to prevent, treat and cure cancer.

The practitioner, Dr Hance Limboro, pleaded guilty to 13 charges filed by AHPRA in August 2016 under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law. Section 133(1)(a) of the National Law provides that a health practitioner and/or provider of a regulated health service cannot advertise in a way that is false, misleading or deceptive, or is likely to be misleading or deceptive.

Limboro was fined $29,500 by the Downing Centre Local Court in Sydney and ordered to pay AHPRA’s legal costs. His advertising featured testimonials, not permitted when advertising regulated health services. He was convicted of unlawfully advertising a regulated health service and using testimonials.

The AHPRA media release states -
Chiropractic Board of Australia Chair, Dr Wayne Minter AM, said the Board welcomed today’s decision by the court.
‘Today’s conviction is a win for public protection and a warning to anyone advertising health services in a way that contravenes the National Law,’ Dr Minter said.
‘Most chiropractors are doing the right thing. However, the Board has been up front with the profession that if their advertising is not compliant with the law, they will be held to account.’
AHPRA CEO Martin Fletcher said today’s outcome sent an important message to anyone who advertises a regulated health service that the regulator will take action if they break the law.
‘Today’s conviction is a landmark ruling. Our purpose, working closely with the Chiropractic Board of Australia, is to protect the public. This shows that we will take action and that people breaking the law will be held to account,’ Mr Fletcher said.
‘Making false claims to treat serious illnesses through unproven methods is both unethical and illegal. In her ruling Magistrate Viney said that while the practitioner personally may not have loaded the advertising onto the website in question, he could not deny responsibility. This is an important lesson for others who are advertising regulated health services.
‘Today’s outcome is a reminder to all of us as health consumers and patients that if an advertisement seems too good to be true, it probably is. Make sure you ask your health practitioner what evidence they have to make these claims and if you’re still unsure, seek a second opinion,’ Mr Fletcher said.