SACRAMENTO — California lawmakers are targeting doctors and websites that promote COVID-19 misinformation in the latest batch of bills introduced by a group of Democrats pushing for stronger vaccination laws in the state.
Assembly Bill 2098 by Assembly Member Evan Low (D-Campbell) would make it easier for the Medical Board of California to discipline doctors who promote COVID-19 misinformation by classifying it as unprofessional conduct. Low said the bill will make it clear that lawmakers want the state’s troubled medical board to go after doctors who peddle inaccurate information about the coronavirus.
Lawmakers have expressed frustration with the medical board’s slow complaint-driven process, which has allowed a handful of doctors in the state to promote conspiracy theories and unproven treatments throughout the pandemic.
“The spreading of misinformation — of inaccurate COVID-19 information — contradicts the responsibility [of doctors] and threatens to further erode the public trust in the medical profession and puts all patients at risk,” Low said Tuesday.
Nick Sawyer, an emergency room doctor who created a group called No License for Disinformation, said the bill would affect a small group of doctors who spread blatantly inaccurate and extreme misinformation that a physician knows to be false, or that they should know to be false given their medical training. Sawyer said he believes the state’s medical board is authorized to go after those doctors now, but that the bill is needed because the agency has been slow to react.
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