(ThePatriotWire)- Regulators in California could soon have the power to hand down punishment on doctors who are accused of spreading disinformation or misinformation regarding COVID-19 treatments and vaccinations.
On Monday, legislators in the state passed a new bill, called AB 2098, that would make spreading misleading or false medical information by doctors to patients as “unprofessional conduct.” People determined to have violated that conduct would then be subject to some sort of punishment handed down by the Medical Board of California, the agency responsible for handing out licenses to doctors.
Possible punishments could include a doctor having their license to practice medicine in California either revoked or suspended.
California’s Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom still must sign the bill before it becomes law.
According to the bill, disinformation is defined as falsehoods “deliberately disseminated with malicious intent or an intent to mislead.” Misinformation is defined as spreading information “that is contradicted by contemporary scientific consensus contrary to the standard of care.”
While the state legislature just passed the bill earlier this week, Newsom still has three weeks to act on it either way. He hasn’t publicly stated what his stance on the matter is.
Even if Newsom were to sign the bill into law, though, it would likely face legal challenges, as groups and individuals have already expressed concerns over First Amendment freedom of speech issues.
While California seems to be moving to punishing doctors for what they say, some other states have done the opposite. They have sought to enact legislation that would protect doctors who decide to advocate for certain treatments that involve ivermectin, hydroxychloroquine and some other medications. Those states are trying to prohibit such doctors from being punished by a state regulatory board.
At the same time, the Federation of State Medical Boards last year issued a warning that encouraged all boards that handle licensing to discipline any doctors who shared what they have termed to be “false claims.”
A similar warning was issued by the American Medical Association, who said that doctors who spread disinformation would be in violation of their code of ethics.
Back in April, the Federation of State Medical Boards wrote a note that read:
“Inaccurate information spread by physicians can have pernicious influences on individuals with widespread negative impact, especially through the ubiquity of smartphones and other internet-connected devices on wrists, desktops and laptops reaching across thousands of miles to other individuals in an instant. Physicians’ status and titles lend credence to their claims.”
Some groups have come out in opposition to California’s bill. One Is Physicians for Informed Consent.
They have said that the bill would ultimately silence doctors. As such, they filed a lawsuit in August that would seek an injunction that would prevent the Medical Board of California from issuing any discipline to doctors based around an accusation that they spread disinformation.
In their suit, Physicians for Informed Consent said that the definition the legislation gives to misinformation is “hopelessly vague.”