Tennessee medical board deletes anti-misinformation policy from website

Due to a new statute state lawmakers passed during a special session, Tennessee's medical licensing board voted Dec. 7 to remove from its website a policy opposing COVID-19 misinformation, a board spokesperson confirmed to Becker's.  

The Board of Medical Examiners moved to delete — but not rescind — the policy, which it adopted Sept. 21.

The policy, titled "Medical Misinformation or Disinformation Regarding COVID-19," establishes that physicians who generate and spread COVID-19 vaccine misinformation or disinformation could face disciplinary action, including license suspension or revocation.

The deletion of the policy from the board website occurred after state lawmakers passed a COVID-19 omnibus bill in October. On Nov. 12, Gov. Bill Lee signed the bill, which addresses the board's disciplinary process related to COVID-19. 

The new law specifically says a disciplinary process regarding the "dispensing or prescribing of medication for COVID-19" must be approved by the Joint Government Operations Committee, according to The Tennessean.

In adopting the anti-misinformation policy, the board agreed that "licensed physicians possess a high degree of public trust" and that spreading inaccurate information about vaccines contradicts a physician's ethical and professional responsibility, "threatens to further erode public trust in the medical profession and puts all patients at risk." 

Tennessee Rep. John Ragan, R-Oak Ridge, co-chair of the Joint Government Operations Committee, has strongly opposed the board's anti-misinformation policy.

According to The Tennessean, the lawmaker sent multiple letters before the Dec. 7 meeting calling on the board to delete the policy or appear before the Joint Government Operations Committee to discuss the issue.

During the Dec. 7 meeting, Melanie Blake, MD, president of the board, said the board remains committed to combating misinformation and disinformation.

To read the full report in The Tennessean, click here. View a recording of the board's Dec. 7 meeting here

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