By Carmen Kavali, MD

There should be no room for confusion when it comes to informed consent or patient choice. I am ecstatic that The Healthcare Practitioners Truth and Transparency Act gives Georgia the most comprehensive policy in the nation to ensure clarity for patients regarding healthcare credentials.

Signed by Governor Brian Kemp on May 3, 2023, Senate Bill 197 offers truth and transparency in three ways:

  1. Truth in advertising by healthcare professionals:  Any advertisement by a healthcare professional must include only their name and licensure.  Physicians (MD or DO) may include their medical specialty or medical specialty title.
  2. Truth and transparency in clinical settings:  In clinical settings, a healthcare professional cannot use any misleading terms regarding their education, training, credentials, or licensure.  A physician (MD or DO) may use their medical specialty or medical specialty title.
  3. Clarity regarding the title “Doctor”: Advance Practice Registered Nurses and Physician Assistants who hold a doctorate degree and choose to use the title of “doctor” in a clinical setting must state their licensure and must state that they are not a medical doctor or physician in every patient encounter.

Patients are confused by healthcare titles.  An American Medical Association survey revealed that 39% of patients thought a Doctor of Nursing Practice was a physician.  11% weren’t sure.  That’s half of all people surveyed completely wrong or confused by a title.  61% thought a Doctor of Medical Science was a physician, which is incorrect.

Informed consent can only be given by a patient who understands exactly who is treating them. Patients must be able to rely on and understand what their health care practitioners tell them. This legislation will help do just that.