Rules to Play by in the Empire State’s Name Game: New York’s Stringent Guidelines for Naming Medical Practices

August 7, 2020

Choosing a name for a business is never just a roll of the dice. It’s a consideration that takes the long game into account. For plastic surgery practices or medical spas, a name may convey health, youth, beauty, or sophistication. Other practices may want to brand around the physician or owner name. No matter the chosen name, all medical practices must navigate the laws pertaining to naming a business and advertising medical services. These rules run state specific, but those in New York remain particularly stringent, especially when it comes to regulating physician advertising and naming professional entities.

While the New York State Office of the Professions provides a resource to help, these 23 tips don’t necessarily ease navigation through the maze of requirements. As a starting point, New York requires the registrant of an entity provide proof of professional designation (i.e. M.D., N.P., etc.).   Additionally, one of the requirements poses a creative hurdle –  that a professional entity must appropriately describe the profession and the professional services being offered. For a MedSpa (which is a medical practice), the professional services offered are considered “medicine” or “medical.” Yet, these terms may fail to invoke the experience a MedSpa seeks to promote.  Therefore, descriptive terms like “anti-aging,” “wellness,” or “aesthetic” may be desired but this then triggers the rules on advertising as a “specialty area,” which follows an additional set of rules.

In order to advertise a specialty area, the Office of the Professions requires proof of certification in said specialty. For instance, physicians offering dermatologic services or plastic surgery would need to submit proof of board certifications in dermatology or plastic surgery, respectively. Because no current board certification exists in “aesthetic medicine,” such an advertising term would be prohibited.  Important to note is that although some MedSpas offer both medical and non-medical procedures, as well as products, ultimately the medical side dictates naming requirements.

Often an entity may operate under an assumed name, or d/b/a (“doing business as” name), allowing certain flexibility precluded by its official name. Medical practices in New York, however, face the same stringent naming restrictions when choosing a d/b/a. For example, a business may settle on the compliant professional entity name, “Dr. John Plastic Surgery of Dunkirk P.C.” In New York, that business is then not free to turn around and operate under the d/b/a, “Best Med Spa”. In fact, both “Best” and “Spa” are specifically prohibited terms and the abbreviation “Med” would require explanation.

The most basic rule in the Empire State’s name game is words matter. In the case of medical practices this means providing proof and justification for each term and professional claim. For MedSpas this can be quite challenging.  While New York is trickier than most, each state has its own rules that govern business naming, especially for businesses that provide medical services. Before you spend valuable time and money on signage, web design, advertising and marketing, make sure that you choose a name that complies with your local and state laws. For more information on forming and naming a professional entity, schedule a consult with us at

ByrdAdatto founding partner Michael Byrd

Michael S. Byrd

As the son of a doctor and entrepreneur, ByrdAdatto attorney Michael S. Byrd has a personal connection to both business and medicine.

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