Professional Chiropractic Conduct in Texas: Publicity
Written by Chris G. Dalrymple D.C., F.I.C.C.   
Wednesday, May 30, 2018 07:29 AM

The TCA is the leading professional chiropractic association in Texas working to enhance chiropractic practice, public access and education.  This article is a conversational presentation of rules pertaining to publicity found in the Texas Board of Chiropractic Examiners (TBCE) rules.  These rules are law just as other governmental regulations and limitations are law.  You are directed to Chapter 77 of the rules of the Texas Board of Chiropractic Examiners for the actual rules.  This article is merely an educational summary of a portion of Chapter 77.

Chapter 77 covers anything distributed publicly, be it written, printed, visual, oral, or any other communication intended for public consumption.  It opens with the definition of terms used in the rules.  Among these are a couple of definitions of which those interested in publicity will need to be especially aware: 

  • Print media:  is defined as “newspapers, magazines, classified telephone directories, city, county, and suburban directories, and all other similar publications.”  

  • Public communication: is defined as “any written, printed, visual, or oral statement or other communication made to or distributed, or intended for distribution, to a member of the general public or the general public at large.”

The rule pertaining to publicity requires that TBCE licensees nor their associates may not “use of any form of public communication which contains a false, fraudulent, misleading, deceptive, or unfair statement of claim, or which has the tendency or capacity to mislead or deceive the general public.”  Such claims include false, deceptive, unfair or misleading advertising likely to create a false expectation of the favorable results from chiropractic treatment, or the cost of treatment or the amount of treatment to be provided, or to claims revealing only a partial disclosure of the conditions and extent of treatment the licensee expects to provide.  This also refers to claims inferring that chiropractic services provide a cure for any condition, that chiropractic services cure or lessen the effects of ailments, injuries or other disorders of the human body that are outside the scope of chiropractic practice, or that imply the results of chiropractic services are guaranteed.  It applies to claims that chiropractic services offer results that are not within the realm of scientific proof beyond testimonial statements or manufacturer’s claims. 

In any form of public communication, a TBCE licensee shall not describe services that are not included within the scope of chiropractic practice.  Stated differently, TBCE licensees may not, shall not, will not be permitted to “describe services” that are not included within the legal scope of the chiropractic profession in Texas.  Such services are widely and greatly varied.  Be careful that you publicly communicate only what is within chiropractic scope in Texas.

For those choosing to engage in telemarketing of prospective patients, note that you or your associates are not to misrepresent themselves as being associated with an insurance company or other healthcare entity to which they are not legally associated.  As in the paragraph above, telemarketers shall not promise “successful chiropractic treatment of injuries.”  

Telemarketers are also required at the start of each call to inform who they are (the caller’s name) and who they represent (the clinic/doctor); they shall keep a copy of each script used for calling and a log of all calls made that shall include the date, telephone number and the name of each person called. Such scripts and logs are to be maintained for a minimum of two years.

For those who intend to include testimonials as part of any public communication, you “shall maintain a signed statement from that person or group to support any statements that may be used in any public communication for a minimum of two years from publication of the testimonial."

Another point of professional conduct is that those licensed by TBCE  shall “clearly differentiate a chiropractic office, clinic, or facility from another business or enterprise in any form of public communication,” and shall be identified as either “doctor of chiropractic,” “DC,” “chiropractor” or use "chiropractic" in all forms of public communication. 

And, in case you aren’t aware, “in any form of public communication using the phrase ‘Board Certified' or similar terminology associated with any credentials, a licensee must identify the board certifying said credentials.”  Also, “if a licensee makes a claim based on one or more research studies, the licensee or facility shall clearly identify the relevant research study or studies and make copies of such research studies available to the board or the public upon request.”

For those choosing to advertise “free services”, be aware that “in any form of public communication, a licensee shall not advertise any service as ‘free’ unless the public communication clearly and specifically states:”  all the component services that will, or might be performed at the time of, or as part of, the service; whether such component services will be free or, if not, the exact amount that will be charged; and if a component service is an evaluation, whether the report of findings will be free or, if not, the exact amount which will be charged for the report of findings.

Finally, just to be sure that you are aware, this section closes with the reminder that rule 77.4 applies “to all advertising, communications, or telemarketing done by or on behalf of a licensee, including activities conducted by employees, students being mentored by the licensee, or other agents.”

In conclusion, ANYTHING you can write, say, type, record, or distribute to the public falls under the scrutiny of TBCE regulations.  You are limited in what you may claim and in some instances you must maintain records of what you publicly distribute or claim.  The rules regarding publicity also extend to your associates, employees and agents, so be careful what you say, what you claim and what you do.  TBCE regulations, like speed limits and IRS regulations, carry the weight of law and are overlooked only at your risk.

Watch for more educational articles.