COVID-19 disinformation, advocating evidence-based medicine.
MIEC understands that the issues about communicating information about Covid are complex and has undoubtedly contributed to continued public health challenges. As a physician-owned, and physician led insurance organization we strongly support evidence-based medicine, and want to support our members in combatting disinformation, and educating both patients and providers on COVID-19. As such, there are a variety of resources available for combatting such disinformation, and ample resources available for monitoring evidence-based treatment options as well as local, state, and federal regulations. Further, we feel it is pertinent to advise our members as to the potential consequences of public dissemination of disinformation.
The Federation of State Medical Boards’ Board of Directors released a statement (July 29 2021) in response to the dissemination of COVID-19 vaccine misinformation and disinformation by physicians and other health care professional on social media platforms, online and in the media:
“Physicians who generate and spread COVID-19 vaccine misinformation or disinformation are risking disciplinary action by state medical boards, including the suspension or revocation of their medical license. Due to their specialized knowledge and training, licensed physicians possess a high degree of public trust and therefore have a powerful platform in society, whether they recognize it or not. They also have an ethical and professional responsibility to practice medicine in the best interests of their patients and must share information that is factual, scientifically grounded and consensus-driven for the betterment of public health. Spreading inaccurate COVID-19 vaccine information contradicts that responsibility, threatens to further erode public trust in the medical profession and puts all patients at risk.”FSMB: Spreading COVID-19 Vaccine Misinformation May Put Medical License at Risk
As such, we have seen various State Medical Associations take actions to investigate physicians and other health care professionals publicly syndicating disinformation. Such actions may lead to regulatory discipline for the physician and increased costs for MIEC.
MIEC will continue to help navigate and lead its members through resources and education. MIEC will curate, and syndicate information and tools needed to identify, and/or counter disinformation.
- Inform members to seek factual COVID-19 information/guidance through official national, state, and local websites such as CDC, state health departments, and medical associations.
- Provide education on how to identify and to respond to misinformation and disinformation when patients present with questions.
- Examples of these tools and resources are:
- Federation of State Medical Boards – COVID-19 Resources: https://www.fsmb.org/advocacy/covid-19/
- CDC Resource Center: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/health-departments/addressing-vaccine-misinformation.html
- AMA Resources: https://www.ama-assn.org/press-center/press-releases/ama-adopts-policy-combat-disinformation-health-care-professionals
COVID-19 disinformation, particularly when delivered by a trusted health-care provider, can result in:
- Significant patient injury or death;
- Actions or investigation from Medical Board and or specialty societies;
- An increase in medical liability risk and costs related to such injuries, and
- Severe, adverse public health consequences.
MIEC will work to help support access to credible scientific information, and resources to help combat medical disinformation.