State medical boards around the nation have been advised to crack down on COVID-19 vaccine “misinformation or disinformation” since at least last summer. On Saturday, Dr. James Dillon wrote in American Thinker about the California state legislature’s move to curtail free speech through new state law.
The Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) issued a directive to state medical boards last year that warned that doctors who “generate and spread” vaccine misinformation are “risking disciplinary action” that could threaten their medical licenses.
The medical communities in many states immediately felt the chilling effect of the threatening message, as actions were taken against doctors prescribing ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine.
The bill proposed in the California Assembly would codify the FSMB warnings. Under the cloak of public health and safety, the law could lead to broad government suppression of disfavored free speech.
The law explicitly promotes “misinformation” and unprofessional conduct for licensed doctors. The definition of misinformation includes the vague terms “false or misleading” regarding the safety or effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines.
The bill goes on to set out four factors the licensing board should consider in disciplining a doctor who is guilty of spreading “misinformation.” First, the board should consider whether a doctor deviated from “the applicable standard of care.” Dillon points out that the rapidly evolving official doctrine surrounding COVID leaves the meaning of “standard of care” open to a constantly shifting and unpredictable meaning.
Second, the board should consider if a doctor “intended to mislead” or acted with malice. Even though a doctor prescribing alternative treatments could not logically be considered to be misleading a patient for that reason alone, the failure to adhere to a government consensus might fit into the framework of “malicious” conduct.
Third, the board would consider whether the misinformation led to an individual declining “opportunities for COVID-19 prevention.” Dr. Dillon points out that an “individual” could go far beyond actual patients to include persons reading comments on Twitter.
Fourth, the misinformation should be evaluated to determine if it deviates from “contemporary scientific consensus” to the point it constitutes “gross negligence” by a doctor. “Contemporary scientific consensus” could mean almost anything and quickly change today.
Suppose the new California bill is passed into law. In that case, it will essentially provide that privileges and licenses granted by the state government can be revoked for criticizing government policy that can change from moment to moment. When dissent and independent professional judgment becomes nothing more than “misinformation,” any speech can be declared illegal by a politician at will.