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Is This Misinformation? November 14, 2022

Now that California has passed AB 2098 into law, which states, “the dissemination of misinformation or disinformation related to the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, or ‘COVID-19,’ as unprofessional conduct”, California doctors could face losing their license for knowingly misleading their patients regarding COVID related information, including (mainly) vaccine information.  

California Governor Gavin Newsom stated, “To be clear, this bill does not apply to any speech outside of discussions directly related to COVID-19 treatment with a direct physician patient relationship…”I am concerned about the chilling effect other potential laws may have on physicians and surgeons who need to be able to effectively talk to their patients about the risks and benefits of treatments for a disease that appeared in just the last few years”. 


Let me get this straight–It’s ok to talk to a patient about his or her risks of any other type of medical or surgical treatment except regarding the COVID vaccine. That’s off limits. If I practiced in California, I could not discuss how the COVID vaccine can significantly increase myocarditis risk in my young male patients after just one dose without significantly reducing COVID deaths in that same age group. 

Look, I’m not anti-vaccine here. From the beginning, I have been pro-vaccine from the beginning in situations where it makes sense. However, if I were a doctor in California, and I am consulting with my patients about the COVID vaccine,  the current medical evidence suggests that a 2nd dose of a primary COVID series vaccine creates a higher myocarditis risk than a protective COVID risk in otherwise young, healthy males. 

In California, the current scientific evidence mentioned above would be labeled “misinformation”, and I could lose my license.  What if I advise my 5  year old patient that he doesn’t  need a COVID shot or booster? This is not considered misinformation in Sweden or the U.K. But it is in California. Because our CDC has different guidelines for healthy 5 year old children. 

My biggest problem comes from applying the evidence. Legislators and policy makers seem to love to paint medical research with one large paint brush. It seems to me that those in the public relations world and those in the scientific evidence world can’t work together effectively. P.R. loves to simplify a message so more people can understand. But they simplify messages at  their own peril! 

What else could be medical misinformation? 

  1. Does prescribing an unwarranted antibiotic for a viral illness constitute medical misinformation? 
  2. Does telling your patient to get a procedure without any evidence that it works constitute medical misinformation?
  3. Does ordering medically unnecessary lab tests constitute medical misinformation?

When it comes to medical misinformation laws, the slope becomes really slippery, really quickly. I’d love to see a light shown on the personal medical practices of the supporters of this law, just to see how they practice, you know, evidence-based medicine. Just remember, what goes around, comes around. 

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