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Emergency physician. Photo credit: Bermix Studio

US Emergency doctors could face sanctions for spreading Covid lies

Emergency Medicine physicians may face consequences if they spread misinformation about Covid-19 vaccines. The American Board of Emergency Medicine (ABEM) has now issued a similar warning to that of the US Federation of State Medical Boards.

Published: September 7, 2021, 12:35 pm

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    Physicians who publicly spread misinformation about the current pandemic could be sanctioned by the American Board of Emergency Medicine (ABEM), including potentially losing board certification, the organization warned at the end of August.

    “Making public statements that are directly contrary to prevailing medical evidence can constitute unprofessional conduct and may be subject to review by ABEM. Should ABEM determine that a physician is promulgating inaccurate information that is contrary to the interests of patients and that adversely impacts public safety, ABEM may withdraw or deny certification for that physician,” ABEM warned.

    ABEM had previously issued a statement against medical disinformation, although they did not threaten any consequences for such actions at the time.

    Their current warning specifically mimics a similar warning from the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) issued recently. It appears that some physicians have deliberately been spreading misinformation regarding the safety and efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines. “We commend ABEM for their commitment to helping combat the spread of Covid-19 misinformation and for reminding physicians they have an ethical responsibility to follow prevailing medical evidence and act in the best interest of their patients,” the FSMB noted in an emailed statement.

    The ABEM statement cited the body’s Code of Professionalism, recently updated in April, which noted that, “ABEM certification requirements for professionalism includes an ethical requirement…”

    The statement stressed the importance of public trust in medicine: “ABEM believes that these statements speak for themselves. ABEM’s interests include providing a credential that is meaningful to physicians who are certified and providing a credential that the public values.”

    “Conduct that is prohibited by this Code shall be reviewed by the ABEM Board of Directors and may result in decertification,” according to the Code of Professionalism. It underscored that the ABEM’s appeal process was “for physicians who are found to not fulfill the requirements described in the Code”.

    The physicians implicated have not yet have been disciplined by their state boards some weeks after FSMB’s statement was released. But because such proceedings are regarded as confidential in most states, investigations may be underway already.

    “Providing misleading and inaccurate information to the public can be sufficiently egregious and inconsistent with the ethical behavior of a physician who is expected to do no harm,” ABEM added.

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