Physician advertising and contract practices seem unlikely to change immediately, and the American Medical Association's current ethical guidelines will require no dramatic changes, if a long-contested Federal Trade Commission (FTC) order becomes final next week.
Still, the order—which bans a medical association from prohibiting truthful physician advertising or interfering with physicians' contractual arrangements—in effect establishes the FTC as the regulator of the delivery of health care, AMA officials say. It is scheduled to take effect May 18.
For example, these officials point out, the FTC's powers to regulate what it considers "unfair trade practice" are broad enough to preempt state laws. Thus, appointed federal commissioners would be able to overrule elected state legislators, and "the learned professions can expect to be called upon to defend the last vestiges of their traditional self-regulatory activities."
So far, according to published reports, physicians seem to be more reluctant than other professionals to advertise