Medical boards join forces to fight Covid-19 misinformation
Providing misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine contradicts physicians’ ethical and professional responsibilities, says the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) – the medical licensing board for physicians in the United States. Any physician who peddles false information about COVID-19 vaccine may be subject to disciplinary actions, including suspension or revocation of license to practice medicine. The warning is contained in a joint statement issued by the American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM), the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM), and the American Board of Pediatrics (ABP) in support of FSMB’s position. The statement reminded all physicians certified by the boards that such unethical or unprofessional conduct may prompt their respective boards to take action that could put their certification at risk. “Expertise matters and … spreading misinformation or falsehoods to the public during a time of a public health emergency goes against everything our boards and our community of board certified physicians stand for” the groups maintained. While the evidence of safe, effective, and widely available vaccines against COVID-19 is overwhelming, the professional organizations expressed concern about some physicians who use their professional knowledge to denigrate vaccination at a time when vaccines continue to demonstrate excellent effectiveness against severe illness, hospitalization, and death. According to Warren Newton of American Board of Family Medicine; Richard J. Baron of American Board of Internal Medicine; and David G. Nichols of American Board of Pediatric, “we all look to board certified physicians to provide outstanding care and guidance” stressing that providing misinformation about a lethal disease is unethical, unprofessional, and dangerous. In times of medical emergency, said the leaders of the professional boards who signed the statement, the community of expert physicians must commit to science, evidence, and collectively share a responsibility for giving the public the most accurate and timely health information available so they could make decisions that work best for themselves and their families.