12 state boards have disciplined docs for COVID misinformation


Only 12 state medical boards have taken action against physicians who have spread false or misleading information about COVID-19, according to a new survey from the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB).

The FSMB reports that in its 2021 annual survey two-thirds of its 71 member boards (which includes the United States, its territories, and Washington, DC) reported an increase in complaints about doctors spreading false or misleading information.

“The staggering number of state medical boards that have seen an increase in COVID-19 disinformation complaints is a sign of how widespread the issue has become,” said Humayun J. Chaudhry, DO, MACP, president and CEO of the FSMB, in a statement.

The FSMB board of directors warned physicians in July that they risked disciplinary action if they spread COVID-19 vaccine misinformation or disinformation.

The organization said 15 state boards have now adopted similar statements.

Dr. Chaudhry said the FSMB was “encouraged by the number of boards that have already taken action to combat COVID-19 disinformation by disciplining physicians who engage in that behavior and by reminding all physicians that their words and actions matter, and they should think twice before spreading disinformation that may harm patients.”

This news organization asked the FSMB for further comment on why more physicians have not been disciplined, but did not receive a response before publication.

Misinformation policies a new battleground

The FSMB and member board policies on COVID-19 around the country have become a new front in the war against mandates and restrictions.

The Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners voted just recently to remove its statement of policy against the spread of misinformation from its website after a Republican lawmaker allegedly threatened to dissolve the board.

The vote came just a few months after the board had approved the policy. The board did not rescind the policy, however, according to a report by the Associated Press.

In California, the president of the state’s medical board tweeted on December 8 about what she said was an incident of harassment by a group that has promoted “fake COVID-19 treatments.”Ms. Kristina Lawson said she observed four men sitting in front of her house in a truck. They flew a drone over her residence, and then followed her to work, parking nose-to-nose with her vehicle.

Ms. Lawson claimed that when she went to drive home the four men ambushed her in what was by then a dark parking garage. She said her “concern turned to terror” as they jumped out, cameras and recording equipment in hand.

The men told law enforcement called to the scene that they were just trying to interview her, according to a statement emailed by Ms. Lawson.

They had not made such a request to the California Medical Board.

Ms. Lawson tweeted that she would continue to volunteer for the board. “That means protecting Californians from bad doctors, and ensuring disinformation and misinformation do not detract from our work to protect patients and consumers,” she wrote.

The men who ambushed Ms. Larson allegedly identified themselves and were wearing clothing emblazoned with the logo of “America’s Frontline Doctors,” an organization that has trafficked in COVID-19 conspiracy theories and promoted unproven treatments like hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin, according to Time. It is led by Simone Gold, MD, who was arrested for breaching the U.S. Capitol on January 6.

Despite her activities, on November 30, the California Medical Board renewed Ms. Gold’s 2-year license to practice.


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