They have decried COVID-19 as a hoax, promoted unproven treatments and pushed bogus claims about the vaccine, including that the shots magnetize the human body.
The purveyors of this misinformation are not shadowy figures operating in the dark corners of the internet. They are a small but vocal group of doctors practicing medicine in communities around the country.
Now medical boards are under increasing pressure to act. Organizations that advocate for public health have called on them to take a harder line by disciplining the doctors, including potentially revoking their licenses. The push comes as the pandemic enters a second winter and deaths in the U.S. top 800,000.
At least a dozen regulatory boards in states such as Oregon, Rhode Island, Maine and Texas recently issued sanctions against some doctors, but many of the most prolific promoters of COVID-19 falsehoods still have unblemished medical licenses.
Policing doctors is no easy feat for boards that were created long before social media. Their investigations tend to move slowly, taking months or even years, and many of their proceedings are private.
“Just because it is physicians, it is no different than if someone called you claiming to be the IRS trying to steal your money,” said Brian Castrucci, president and chief executive officer of the de Beaumont Foundation. “It’s a scam, and we protect Americans from scams.”
Castrucci’s organization, which advocates for public health, and No License For…