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Mr Yannis is in his surgery when his assistant, Jenny, comes in with his mail and the advert she's been designing for him. The ad is entitled 'We will make you beautiful' and contains several 'before and after' photographs of ex-patients. She has obtained consent from some of the patients for using their photographs in the advert.

(The story so far...)

Mr Yannis is a cosmetic surgeon working in the independent sector.



Here's the ad, Mr Yannis. I settled on 'We will make you beautiful!' for the main heading. Did you want me to ask the GMC to approve the text? Oh, and you asked me to check about consent for the photos: all OK from Mr Smith, Mrs Belsey and Ms Collins; and Ms McLean's said she's happy for us to use the photo for teaching but wouldn't be happy for us to use it in an ad, but I can't see what difference that makes.

Mr Yannis

Mr Yannis

Well, I think we'd better respect Ms McLean's wishes. How about the thread vein picture of the thigh - Mrs Horton isn't it?



Yes Mr Yannis...well I didn't think we'd need consent for photos unless you can see their face? I mean, who's going to know that's her leg?

What should the doctor do...? (Select A,B or C)


Keep the advert - text and photos - as it is?


Keep the photos but change the title of the advert to something more factual?


Change the title of the advert and seek Mrs Horton's consent to use her photo?

Mr Yannis

See what the doctor did

Mr Yannis decided to seek Mrs Horton's consent for the photo of her leg to be used in the advert (she declined so he removed the photo). He checked GMC guidance about advertising and contacted the Advertising Standards Authority to ensure the text of the advert complied with their standards.


When advertising your services, you must make sure the information you publish is factual and can be checked, and does not exploit patients' vulnerability or lack of medical knowledge.
(Good Medical Practice, paragraph 70)

You must treat information about patients as confidential.
(Good Medical Practice, paragraph 50)

As a general rule, you should seek a patient's express consent before disclosing identifiable information for purposes other than the provision of their care or local clinical audit, such as financial audit and insurance or benefits claims.
(Confidentiality, paragraph 33)

If you cannot anonymise the information, you should seek the patient's consent before disclosing it. When seeking the patient's consent, you must provide them with enough information about the nature and purpose of the disclosure to enable them to make an informed decision. This should include a description of the information to be disclosed and an indication of how it will be used, for example, whether it will be published in a journal or shown at a medical conference. You must then disclose that information only for the purposes for which the patient has given consent.
You should respect a patient's refusal to consent to publication of their identifiable information.
(Confidentiality: Disclosing information for education and training purposes, paragraphs 5 and 7)

When advertising your services, you must follow the regulatory codes and guidelines set by the Committee of Advertising Practice.
(Cosmetic interventions, paragraph 47)

You must make sure the information you publish is factual and can be checked, and does not exploit patients' vulnerability or lack of medical knowledge.
(Cosmetic interventions, paragraph 48)

Your marketing must be responsible. It must not minimise or trivialise the risks of interventions and must not exploit patients' vulnerability. You must not claim that interventions are risk free.
(Cosmetic interventions, paragraph 49)

You must not mislead about the results you are likely to achieve. You must not falsely claim or imply that certain results are guaranteed from an intervention.
(Cosmetic interventions, paragraph 51)