They condemned COVID-19 as a scam, promoted unproven treatments, and promoted false claims about vaccines, including vaccines that magnetize the human body.
The disseminators of this kind of misinformation are not shady figures operating in the dark corners of the Internet. They are a small group of doctors who practice medicine in communities across the country, but their voices are quiet.
Now, the medical committee is under increasing pressure to take action. Public health advocates are calling on them to take a tougher attitude and impose disciplinary actions on doctors, including the possibility of revoking their licenses. As the pandemic entered its second winter, the death toll in the United States exceeded 800,000, and this move followed.
Recently, at least a dozen supervisory committees in Oregon, Rhode Island, Maine, and Texas have imposed sanctions on some doctors, but many of those who most frequently promote COVID-19 lies still hold Have an intact medical license.
Brian Castrucci, President and CEO of the De Beaumont Foundation, said: “Just because it’s a doctor, it’s nothing like someone calling you and claiming to be an IRS trying to steal your money. Different.” “This is a scam, and we protect Americans from scams.”
Castellucci’s public health advocacy organization and No License For Disinformation, which combats false medical information, released a report on Wednesday highlighting some cases. The report was released one week after the Federation of State Medical Commissions issued an investigation that found that 67% of commissions found an increase in complaints about COVID-19 misinformation.
The president and CEO of the federation, Dr. Humayun Chaudhry, said that this number “shows how common this problem has become.”
Dr. Kencee Graves, a doctor at the University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City, said that one of her patients decided not to get the vaccine after hearing the doctor’s misinformation.
Graves said, “She was led astray by someone she should be able to trust,” and described the patient as a “very, very cute old lady.”
The lady later admitted her mistake and said: “I realize now that I was wrong, but I think I should listen to someone.”
According to a national poll conducted by the De Beaumont Foundation, people generally support cracking down on these doctors. In a survey of 2,200 adults, 91% of respondents stated that doctors have no right to deliberately spread false information.
But for a board of directors created long before social media, supervising doctors is not an easy task. Their investigations often progress slowly, taking months or even years, and many of their procedures are conducted in private.
Castellucci said it was time for them to “evolve,” but it was challenging to do so. This month, the Tennessee Medical Licensing Commission, under pressure from Republican state lawmakers, removed the recently adopted misinformation policy from its website and implemented a huge virus-related law. limit.
Even individual board members have become targets of attack. In California, Kristina Lawson, chair of the state medical board, said that last week a group of anti-vaccine activists followed her at home and followed her to her office. She said these people claim to represent frontline doctors in the United States, and the organization criticized the COVID-19 vaccine and spread misinformation.
The leader of the organization, Dr. Simone Gold, who was arrested in the U.S. Capitol riot on January 6, tweeted to her nearly 390,000 followers on Twitter this month, saying, “Nurses know about Covid The patient is dying from a government-subsidized hospital agreement (Remdesivir, intubation), not from Covid.”
Although her emergency medicine certificate expired last year, Gold is still a practicing physician in California. Complaints and investigations are not public in the state, so it is not clear if she faces any issues.
In Idaho, the state’s medical association was so upset that pathologist Dr. Ryan Cole promoted the antiparasitic drug ivermectin, so much so that it filed a complaint with the state medical board. Susie Keller, the chief executive of the association, said she believes this is the first time the organization has taken action against her organization. She explained that many doctors have had enough.
Keller said that the spread of lies “actually caused our doctors and nurses to be verbally attacked by patients who believe the false information is true.”
Cole did not respond to the Associated Press’ request for comment, but his work voicemail said he “cannot prescribe medicines or issue a vaccine or mask waiver letter.” The voicemail also directed the caller to the frontline COVID-19 Intensive Care Alliance, a Groups that support ivermectin.
According to Idaho law, all investigations of doctors are conducted in private unless there is a formal hearing. Meanwhile, the Washington State Medical Commission is investigating five complaints about Cole, spokesperson Stephanie Mason said.
She wrote in an email that investigating misinformation is “very challenging because many actions are not documented.” Many examples “occur quietly in the office.”
In Ohio, the state medical committee automatically renewed Sherri Tenpenny’s license in September after the Cleveland osteopath testified before the state House of Representatives Health Committee this summer that the COVID-19 vaccine causes magnetism.
The vaccinator “can put the key on the forehead; it will stick,” Tenpenny said.
Jerica Stewart, a spokesperson for the state medical commission, said the recent license renewal does not prevent the commission from taking action.
Stewart said that “making false, fraudulent, deceptive or misleading statements” is a ground for disciplinary action.
In Texas, Dr. Stella Immanuel appeared in a video promoting the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine. “You don’t need a mask. There is an antidote.”
Records show that in October, the Texas Medical Council ordered her to pay $500 and improve her consent process because it discovered that she had prescribed hydroxychloroquine to a COVID-19 patient, but did not adequately explain the potential health consequences.
Emanuel did not respond to the Associated Press’s Facebook message, and the medical institution where she worked did not respond to emails.
The head of No License For Disinformation, Dr. Nick Sawyer, described the actions against Immanuel as “a slap on the wrist” and accused the National Medical Commission of “not doing a good job in protecting public health.”
He said he witnessed the loss firsthand when he was in an emergency room in Sacramento, California. He said that just this month, a diabetic patient in her 70s insisted that despite the positive test result, she was not infected with COVID-19, then asked to take ivermectin and ignored medical advice after the drug was refused. And quit.
“She said,’If I get COVID, you give it to me,'” he recalled, blaming the woman’s resistance to the doctor who spread the misinformation. “This is killing us.”