Disclaimer and Website Ethics

Disclaimer

Medical information provided by the Orthopaedics WA website is for information and education only. The information should not be relied upon as a medical consultation. The website is not designed to replace a physician's independent judgement about the appropriateness or risks of a procedure for a given patient.

Website Ethics for Members of the Australian Orthopaedic Association

A. Information Impacting on the Doctor/Patient Relationship.
  1. The Website should contain only that material and information pertinent to the orthopaedic conditions that the Doctor is fully qualified to manage.

  2. Care should be taken to avoid, by any implication, any discrimination or bias, from a cultural, commercial or professional sense.

  3. If used for informed consent, the Website information content remains the responsibility of the orthopaedic surgeon and in terms of those obligations should contain all the relevant medical facts and advice, consistent with acceptable orthopaedic practice. As an example, this information should include all the reasonable alternative modes of treatment, under the headings of conservative and operative management. Each of these headings would include the relevant risks and possible outcomes in terms of benefits or complications.
B. Personal Behaviour.
  1. The Website should reflect the orthopaedic surgeon's given reputation involving honesty and truth. The Website information should contain no inducements or offers that would adversely impact upon general orthopaedic probity as applied to the membership of the Australian Orthopaedic Association. For example, criticism of other health care professionals, directly or indirectly, should be avoided and the tone of the Doctor's personal material should indicate care and compassion on his/her behalf.

  2. It would be reasonable and acceptable for the personal Website of the Orthopaedic surgeon to affirm that s/he upholds the constitution of the Australian Orthopaedic Association and accepts the medical profession's advice in terms of rules and regulations. The Website may contain comments pertinent to ongoing medical education programs.
C. Testimony to Levels of Expertise or Competence.
These statements should be limited to factual and concise information, which can be readily understood by the general public, and offer no source of misinterpretation or misunderstanding.

It would be reasonable to include peer group activities and contributions to the orthopaedic community, whether by way of publications, meetings, committee activities or other posts that may be held.

These testimonies should carefully circumscribe the surgeon's expertise as defined by his/her training, education and experience.

It may be considered unethical to use the Website information, specifically, to enlarge the perceived professional attributes, through various advertising or marketing techniques.
D. Community Activities.
On the basis that the medical practitioner has a professional community involvement and, not infrequently, a non-professional community involvement, it would be reasonable for these latter activities to be included on the Website for general information. This material, however, should be expressed in a fashion which is not misleading and is not misconstrued to the professional advantage of the surgeon.
E. Conflict of Interest.
Since the 1st October, 2000 with amendments to the Medical Practitioner Act, in New South Wales, the definition of 'unsatisfactory professional conduct' has been significantly expanded to effectively include any commercial arrangement affecting the Doctor/Patient relationship other than direct fee remuneration. Those NSW surgeons with other commercial arrangements should carefully study the recent Legislative Amendments to ensure any Website material is not in breach of the Act.