False medical statements: Lawmaker files free-speech legislation

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Can doctors expect to keep their license even after proving that some of their treatment measures have failed? Though there are no convincing answers for it, recently a Republican lawmaker has filed “free-speech” legislation in support of doctors.

Rep. Brad Drake, a Republican from Eucheeanna, wants to bar state regulators from punishing doctors even if they are found to have adopted medically questionable treatments.

As per the legislation, the state or its licensing boards will have to prove by clear and convincing evidence that a health care provider’s social media posts caused harm to a current patient before revoking a license, certificate, or registration of a health care practitioner.

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According to House bill 687, the state can sanction doctors for social media posts that caused direct physical harm to current patients. However, it has to be proved beyond reasonable doubt that the posts caused harm.

Some experts believe that the bill would put pressure on medical boards who are responsible for holding doctors medically accountable.

The bill covers dentists, nurses, pharmacists, and about 20 other health care providers.

Recently, an ophthalmologist Howard Goldman had filed a complaint against state Surgeon General nominee Joseph A. Ladapo, alleging that Ladapo made false public statements.

Besides, medical societies have a stated position of sanctioning providers who promote misinformation regarding the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Some experts are of the opinion that the intention of the bill is good but they found flaws in it.

A fine balance is required before making a final call on the bill. Though the doctors can be targeted for whatever they are promoting via social media posts, harming the regulatory procedures would do more harm than the current measures. The bill has raised the prospect of promoting meaningful debates on the issue, which has the potential for creating new benchmarks in health issues.

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