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California poised to revoke licenses of doctors who disseminate 'COVID misinformation and disinformation'

Physicians slammed as 'some of the most dangerous propagators of inaccurate information'

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Y Rabinovitz

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August 31, 2022

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02:28 AM

California poised to revoke licenses of doctors who disseminate 'COVID misinformation and disinformation'

A bill designed to combat dissemination of “misinformation and disinformation” on COVID passed a vote Monday evening in the California State Senate. If Governor Newsom signs it into law, doctors found to be in breach could face disciplinary action including the loss of their licenses.

The bill was first introduced in February by Democratic state Assembly member Evan Low, who described the need to “hold physicians to account” for “putting patients at risk.”

“Due to their specialized knowledge and training, licensed physicians possess a high degree of public trust and therefore must be held to account,” Low said in a statement. “The spreading of misinformation, of inaccurate COVID-19 information, contradicts that responsibility and threatens to further erode the public trust in the medical profession and puts all patients at risk”.

Explaining the need for such a bill, Stanford law professor Michelle Mello told the New York Times that while other countries have criminalized the spread of vaccine misinformation, authorities in the United States have to date been “limited” to fighting misinformation with “scientific data”.

Some of those applauding the bill cite statements made recently by FDA commissioner Robert Califf, who told CNN that he believes misinformation “is now our leading cause of death” in the United States. He cited as examples the promotion of ivermectin for COVID treatment, and vaccine hesitancy (again, related to COVID). While Califf admitted that there is “no way” of backing up his assertation with data, he suggested that an “erosion of life expectancy” in the US is linked to medical misinformation.

The California bill – the first of its kind – makes an effort to define its terms, calling misinformation “false information that is contradicted by contemporary scientific consensus to the standard of care.” Disinformation, according to those who drafted the law, is “misinformation that the licensee deliberately disseminated with malicious intent or an intent to mislead.”

Richard Pan, another California State Senator who supports the new bill, explained that in order “for a patient to give informed consent, they have to be well informed.”

MedPage Today, a leading healthcare website, reported on the bill and opened its article for comments to “healthcare professionals only,” as is its policy.

“Will the last person to leave California please close the door and turn off the lights?” responded “Fladoc”.

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