Although many doctors have been vocal about COVID misinformation, few have been reprimanded.
A small number of physicians have been disciplined for spreading COVID-19 misinformation since MedPage Today first reported the issue on August 18, 2021, and none of them were on its original list. Only three additional practitioners were sanctioned by state medical boards despite the fact that the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) has issued a warning that licenses could be “at risk” if a doctor is caught spreading lies.
Here’s whose facing disciplinary action: Sue Mcintosh, MD, of Connecticut, had her license suspended for doling out fraudulent vaccine exemption forms; Paul Gosselin, DO, of Maine, received a a 30-day suspension for signing COVID vaccine exemption letters; Mark Brody, MD, of Rhode Island, was disciplined for spreading misinformation about vaccines and had his license suspended for five years for violating patient care and records protocols. Thomas Cowan, MD, of California handed in his license and had previously been on a 5-year probation for prescribing unapproved drugs to a patient with breast cancer in 2017.
Some of the physicians on the list renewed their licenses during the last five months. And, as Omicron cases soar, many of those practitioners most vocal about COVID-19 misinformation continue to practice. They are able to spread this information to patients, misinforming them. Because boards have refused to take sufficient action, hospitals and other facilities have stepped in and at least four physicians have been reprimanded by these facilities.
Houston Methodist Hospital suspended ear, nose, and throat doctor Mary Talley Bowden, MD, in mid-November, tweeting the physician was “spreading dangerous information which is not based in science.” Bowden resigned.
John Witcher, MD, was terminated from his position with Baptist Memorial Hospital-Yazoo in Mississippi after taking patients off remdesivir and giving them ivermectin. Sentara Hospital in Norfolk, Virginia, temporarily suspended f Paul Marik, MD, head of the Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care (FLCCC) Alliance, which has broadcasted ivermectin as the treatment of choice for COVID-19. Ryan Cole, MD, left St. Luke’s Health Partners, Idaho, in December but it cannot be confirmed whether he left or was terminated.
The FSMB issued a press release stating that “at least 12 boards have taken disciplinary action against a licensee for spreading false or misleading information.” The letter included findings from an annual 2021 survey of state boards, focusing primarily on identifying “how medical boards are being impacted by, and addressing, physicians and other health care professionals who spread false or misleading information about COVID-19.”
The survey found “67% have experienced an increase in complaints related to licensee dissemination of false or misleading information; 26% have made or published statements about the dissemination of false or misleading information; 21% have taken a disciplinary action against a licensee disseminating 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. “We are 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.”