Standard of Practice

Under Review: No
Issued by Council (Advertising by Regulated Members): January 1, 2010
Reissued by Council: July 1, 2011
Reissued by Council (Advertising): Jan. 1, 2021; October 2015

Note: a glossary of terms can be found at the end of this document. Glossary terms are indicated in teal with a “G” throughout this document.

  1. A regulated member who is responsible for an advertisementG must ensure the information provided:
    1. conforms to the Code of Ethics & Professionalism;
    2. contains factual and relevant information about the nature of the practice;
    3. includes the practice disciplineG as identified on the member’s practice permit issued by CPSA;
    4. is accurate, clear and explicitly states all pertinent details of an offer, with disclaimers as prominent as other aspects of the message;
    5. is supported by current, best-available medical evidenceG
    6. is compatible with the best interests of the public and upholds the reputation of the medical profession;
    7. clearly specifies when services being offered are not or may not be publicly funded through the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan;
    8. is not false, incomplete, misleading or deceptive;
    9. does not include claims, representations, endorsements or testimonials regarding the service or business;
    10. does not create unreasonable expectations of beneficial treatment, such as guarantees or warranties about results; and
    11. does not encourage the indiscriminate or unnecessary use of health services.
  2. A regulated member must:
    1. ensure advertising done on their behalf by a third party complies with this standard;
    2. show, in writing, where advertising by a third party was reviewed and approved; and
    3. be able to demonstrate this review and approval to CPSA upon request.
  3. A regulated member must promptly comply with direction from the Registrar to:
    1. substantiate any advertising claim or representation;
    2. confirm whether a specific advertisement is made by or on behalf of the regulated member; or
    3. change or stop using any advertising message(s) that the Registrar deems in violation of any part of this standard or the Code of Ethics & Professionalism.
  4. A regulated member must not directly or indirectly participate in advertising that:
    1. discredits, disparages or attacks another product, service, facility, clinic, provider or group;
    2. promises or offers more effective services or better results than those available from another provider unless substantiated to the satisfaction of the Registrar based on publicly available information; or
    3. offers any inducementG to a patient to receive a medical service, including but not limited to:
      1. time-limited prices for a service;
      2. discount coupons, gift certificates, or prizes for a service;
      3. communal gatherings (“parties”) where consultation or medical services are offered;
      4. a service in conjunction with “makeovers” created for entertainment or promotional purposes; or
      5. events, including “education sessions,” where registration fees are donated.
  5. A regulated member must not:
    1. disclose the name or identifying features of a patient unless the regulated member has obtained the patient’s prior written consentG to use the information for advertising purposes (documentation of this consent must be noted in the patient’s record and available for CPSA to verify upon request); or
    2. use a protected titleG listed in Schedule 21 of the Health Professions Act (HPA) alone or in combination with other descriptors to imply specialization in an area or branch of medicine unless recognized by CPSA or authorized by the Registrar to use that title.
  6. Notwithstanding clause 5(b), a regulated member may use a protected title as authorized by the Department of National Defence.
  7. In advertisements, a regulated member may indicate a practice interestG in advertisements only if:
    1. the area of interest falls within the context of the member’s practice discipline;
    2. the area of interest is a demonstrated, significant focus of the member’s practice; and
    3. the regulated member pursues continuing medical education related to the area of interest.



Advertisement/advertising: any communication made orally, in print, through electronic media or via the internet (including websites and social media), by or on behalf of a registered member, to the public where its substantial purpose is to promote the regulated member, the regulated member’s services, or the clinic or group where the regulated member practices or with which the regulated member is associated. (From CPSBC’s Advertising Practice Standard)

Practice discipline: refers to a regulated member’s scope of practice (e.g., family practice, general surgery, pediatrics).

Evidence: rigorous, peer-reviewed clinical research that supports a claim and/or service.

Inducement: anything that persuades or influences someone to do something.

Consent: permission for something to happen or agreement to do something; a regulated member must obtain a patient’s consent in accordance with the Informed Consent standard of practice. For more information, please refer to the Informed Consent for Adults and Informed Consent for Minors Advice to the Profession documents.

Protected title: a protected title is part of the agreement between the province and the regulated profession. This indicates anyone using the title is appropriately trained and registered with the appropriate regulatory body. A person not trained and/or registered cannot use the protected titles listed in Schedule 21 of the Health Professions Act.

Practice interest: refers to areas within a regulated member’s scope of practice they concentrate on and/or have a special interest in (e.g., gynecology, obstetrics, surgery).

About the Standards of Practice

The CPSA Standards of Practice are the minimum standards of professional behaviour and ethical conduct expected of all physicians registered in Alberta. Standards of practice are enforceable under the Health Professions Act and will be referenced in the management of complaints and in discipline hearings.


For questions or archived standards, policies and guidelines contact our Standards of Practice Advisor.

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