California’s covid misinformation bill just fell. And that divides doctors.

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A California COVID-19 misinformation bill, AB 2098, is causing controversy among doctors. Just passed, the bill will open legal avenues against healthcare workers who spread false information to their patients about COVID-19. Some oppose the bill, saying it does not allow for reasonable dissent from the consensus, while others dispute it, arguing that the bill focuses on sweeping departures from accepted science. .

Notably, The law project does not include any provision relating to the behavior of health professionals on social networks; it concerns only the direct communication between the provider and the patient.

AB 2098 defines misinformation as “false information that is contradicted by contemporary scientific consensus contrary to the standard of care,” and classifies its spread by physicians as “unprofessional conduct.” Those found guilty of such conduct face a list of disciplinary possibilities, including fines, license suspensions or revocations, and public reprimands.

“California’s anti-disinformation bill is well-intentioned. But it’s a bad idea,” reads a Washington Post headline by health columnist and physician Leana Wen.

“Consider how long it took the CDC to recognise that the coronavirus is airborne. Should doctors have been censured for recommending N95 masks before they were accepted as an effective method to reduce transmission of the virus? Wen wrote.

Wen argued that many doctors would advise patients to delay getting the booster closer to winter vacation, and some would not recommend boosters for children who have already had the virus. Both tips go against federal guidelines, according to Wen, and would leave providers vulnerable to license suspensions or revocations.

“While well-intentioned, this legislation will have a chilling effect on medical practice,” Wen wrote. “Is it really fair that doctors should be threatened with suspension or revocation of their license for offering nuanced advice on a complex issue that is barely settled by existing science?”

Other doctors, like Physician’s Weekly contributor David Epstein, say “there is a misconception that the government decides what is correct medical information as opposed to the medical community.”

“I do not feel threatened by AB 2098. I do not believe it limits a physician’s autonomy to practice adequately, regarding the diagnosis, management and prevention of COVID-19,” Epstein wrote. . “It really focuses on extreme deviations from scientific standards of care and consensus that are supported by existing science and experts.”

Epstein argued that the abundance of misinformation surrounding the coronavirus, the vaccine and the pandemic has led to unnecessary “morbidity and mortality”.

“Scientific research is ongoing to try to save lives in a compressed time frame, we must use the evidence we have at the moment. As evidence mounts to support a health precept or opposing precept over time, the medical community pivots,” Epstein wrote. “When someone argues that trying to stem the flow of misinformation in health care is somehow unscientific, a censure, against the spirit of doctors’ ability to defy science or practice the medicine of independently, and promotes dogma, I have to question their understanding of science.”

Interesting checks

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Quick shots

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Of actuality :

  • Election disinformation in Brazil worries analysts and mediaFrom allegations of rigged polls to accusations that presidential candidates are cannibals or Satan worshippers, Brazil’s elections have been tainted with misinformation. (Voice of America, Graham Keeley)
  • Misinformation on COVID-19: the flip side of “knowledge is power” “The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is providing $3.8 million for a study led by Anish Agarwal, MD, assistant professor of emergency medicine and associate director of the Center for Digital Health at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. , and Sharath Chandra Guntuku, PhD, assistant professor of computer and information science at Penn Engineering and principal investigator at the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics, to study the COVID-19-related social media habits of four different populations (Penn Medicine News, Frank Otto)

From/for the community:

  • A Turkish fact-checking organization, Teyit, has created a toolkit to fight misinformation. “Teyit introduces the Emergency Confirmation Kit to its users based on its knowledge and experience to date. With the kit, which includes the basic methods and approaches by which users can confirm suspicious information on the Internet, Teyit ensures that users have tools against false information at all times. This kit, which aims to empower users against misinformation, is available here.”
  • The International Fact-Checking Network at the Poynter Institute awarded $450,000 in grants to organizations working to reduce the impact of false and misleading information on WhatsApp. In partnership with Meta, the Disseminate the Facts grant program gives fact-checking organizations resources to identify, report and reduce the spread of misinformation that threatens more than 100 billion messages every day. The grant supports eleven projects from eight countries, including India, Spain, Nigeria, Georgia, Bolivia, Italy, Indonesia and Jordan. Learn more about the ad here.
  • Stay tuned for more information on recipients of legal subsidies in future additions to Factally.

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