IT’S BEEN A ROUGH couple of weeks for doctors accused of spreading covid misinformation, with several regulatory bodies punishing physicians. In one state, three physicians have responded by suing their state medical board.
Ohio’s medical board voted to suspend a physician who went viral in summer 2021 after claiming that the covid vaccine magnetized people.
In June 2021, a state legislator invited Sherri Tenpenny, DO, to discuss covid vaccines. The legislator had proposed a bill that would block schools, hospitals and other public institutions from mandating covid vaccines based on concerns about safety.
Tenpenny claimed that because covid vaccines magnetized people, vaccinated individuals could place a key on their forehead and it would stick. She also stated that covid vaccines were interacting with 5G cell towers, although she said the exact mechanism was not understood.
According to local newspaper Cleveland.com, Tenpenny’s comments backfired. The legislation she was supporting stalled, and the medical board began an investigation.
A MedPage Today article reports that the board suspended Tenpenny’s license in early August not because of her statements on covid vaccines, but because she refused to cooperate with the board’s investigation.
The board claimed that Tenpenny didn’t respond to multiple attempts to reach her. Tenpenny’s lawyer eventually told the board that Tenpenny wouldn’t respond to its inquiries because she thought it was acting in “bad faith.”
The board suspended her license for refusing to cooperate, but the catalyst for the investigation that led to her suspension remained her comments on covid vaccines. Tenpenny has long expressed skepticism about vaccines and runs several businesses that offer vaccine alternatives.
Two other physicians will likely have their board certification with the ABIM revoked for their roles in co-founding and participating in the Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance. The Alliance made headlines during the pandemic for its advocacy of treatments like ivermectin for covid, and critics said that the group discouraged people from getting vaccinated against covid.
MedPage Today reported that ABIM’s Credentials and Certification Committee recommended that Paul Marik, MD, and Pierre Kory, MD, lose their board certification. The ABIM claimed that the two had disseminated “false or inaccurate medical information” and data that were not “consensus-driven scientific evidence.”
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In a statement Dr. Kory said that the ABIM is “basically telling doctors that we need to take our orders from bureaucrats in Washington and certain medical journals instead of making treatment decisions based on our training and expertise.”
Politicians like Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) weighed in against the ABIM’s move, saying the organization is part of the “covid cartel.”
Suing the state board
In Washington state, three doctors are pushing back against disciplinary action and suing the Washington Medical Commission over its definition of what constitutes covid misinformation.
The trio is facing action from the state board for giving patients unproven treatments and making “false and misleading statements” about the pandemic. MedPage Today coverage notes that the three physicians are fighting that action not by defending their activities, but by questioning the board’s procedures for defining covid misinformation.
The three doctors claim that the state board adopted a definition of a standard of care for covid without going through the proper motions, such as giving adequate public notice and establishing a comment period before endorsing the position.
MedPage Today also quotes a letter from the physicians’ lawyer saying that even if the board had followed proper procedures, its definition would still violate the physicians’ free-speech rights.
The board claims that one of the physicians neglected to give a high-risk patient monoclonal antibodies, even though that patient was within 10 days of the onset of covid. The board also says that another patient, based on the advice of one of the three physicians, refused to be vaccinated or treated with remdesivir and baricitinib. That patient later died from pneumonia due to covid.