Dubai: UAE hospitals and clinics have been urged to consider the new law, which protects consumers from health care scams, before using social media to stand out in an increasingly competitive market.

Sunil Thacker, Senior Partner at STA Law Firm, believes some health care establishments could be forced out of business through not paying proper attention to the Federal National Council law passed in October.

“The health care industry has become enormously competitive, as witnessed by the volume of activity on social media, SMS campaigns and other forms of advertising and promotion by hospitals and clinics that we see today,” said Thacker.

“They are advised to take a long hard look at the new law and all its implications to ensure they comply, as the warnings are clear and the penalties for offenders could have serious business implications.”

The new law requires all health care establishments to obtain permits issued by the Ministry of Health and Prevention (MOHAP) before promoting advertisements on social media platforms.

It follows an increase in the number of complaints about medical procedures and unethical advertisements posted online, some falsely claiming endorsement by celebrities like Kim Kardashian.

Those failing to obtain the necessary permits will face fines of up to Dh1 million, as well as the suspension of their medical licence for a period of six months. The website carrying the advertisement may also be blocked.

Health care bodies must register online in the MOHAP advertising licensing services programme and submit advertisements for approval, a process normally taking one to three working days.

Advertisements posted on social media without permits will attract fines ranging from Dh1,000 to Dh1 million. For non-permitted ads published online and on social media, fines range from Dh100,000 to Dh200,000.

The law also brings penalties for confidential patient data published online without prior consent, including videos and images of medical procedures.