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Is spreading medical misinformation a physician’s free speech right? It’s complicated.

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Association of American Medical Colleges, December 2023

COVID-19 vaccines are ineffective and unsafe and may even cause infertility. Masks don’t provide any protection against the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Ivermectin, a medication generally used to deworm animals, is an effective treatment for COVID-19. These statements are among the many types of misinformation disseminated by doctors on social media during the pandemic, according to recent research published in JAMA Network.

In fact, dozens of physicians practicing in nearly 30 different specialties across the United States spread a vast array of COVID-19-related misinformation during the pandemic, the paper found. These physicians posted unproven claims on at least five different platforms, likely reaching millions. The authors went on to note that about 1 out of every 3 reported COVID-19 deaths in the United States as of January 2023 was considered preventable if public health recommendations had been followed.

Such reports of medical misinformation raise some crucial free speech questions: What are physicians allowed to say, both in the public sphere and to their patients? And how can the medical profession and state licensing boards ensure that a provider can share their medical opinions while also guarding against dangerous, even deadly, advice?

Continue reading at the Association of American Medical Colleges.

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