The Alaska State Medical Council has opened complaints against nine licensed medical providers in the state, over concerns about misinformation regarding COVID-19 treatments.
The complaints involve seven doctors, a medical assistant and an advanced practice registered nurse, according to Sara Chambers, director of the state division of corporations, business and professional licensing, who provides staff for medical advice.
An open complaint is a welcome state based on information received from the public and does not imply a verdict of guilt or innocence, Chambers said. The suppliers have not been publicly identified.
Now board staff are reviewing hundreds of comments received in recent days and expect more complaints to surface, she said. Updated information should be available early next week.
The issue came into the spotlight last week after a group of Alaskan doctors – nearly 150 ultimately – signed a letter asking the board to investigate the conduct of local doctors who have publicly advocated for the use of COVID-19 treatments such as ivermectin. The request was later approved by the Alaska Medical Association, which has nearly 500 members.
[US opens COVID boosters to all adults, urges them for 50+]
The medical board took no action on Friday at a regular quarterly meeting that included an hour of public testimony on the request.
The board received over 600 email comments on the matter, a sudden deluge that arrived just days before the scheduled quarterly meeting and was not on the official agenda.
“Today is our time to listen,” Board Chairman Dr. Richard Wein said before the testimony began. “As a board of directors, we will look into this in the future and deal with the issue appropriately with the appropriate time. “
In the closing comments, Wein said, “I know this is a very passionate question, and I know everyone has their opinion, including myself, but the board needs to be on the lookout for it. listens to voters who are both medical providers and citizens of the state. . “
The medical board’s process for investigating complaints against physicians is posted on a state website.
The doctor (s) involved in the complaints have not been identified. The board does not release the names of doctors under investigation unless they are sanctioned.
Pat Dougherty, a former editor of the Daily News, has filed complaints with the board. In his testimony on Friday, he said a doctor had harmed public health when he testified before the Anchorage Assembly that the “The risk of wearing a mask outweighs the benefit.” Another, at an early treatment summit last month, mistakenly said that vaccines do not prevent infection, he said.
“Stop a handful of irresponsible Alaskan doctors from spreading dangerous misinformation under the guise of medical facts during a pandemic that has killed more than 800 Alaskans,” said Dougherty.
[Alaska reports 20 COVID-19 deaths and over 500 new cases Friday]
Two local doctors – Ilona Farr and John Nolte – spoke at an early COVID-19 treatment event featuring prominent vaccine skeptics in Anchorage late last month, hosted by a group called the Alaska Covid Alliance.
Farr said on Friday she spoke at the summit to raise awareness.
“I have been very successful in treating hundreds of patients and keeping them from going to the hospital,” she said. “I have used these treatments on myself, my family members and the patients.”
Dr. Tom Hennessy, an epidemiologist at the University of Alaska Anchorage, told the board he had filed a complaint asking the panel to investigate a doctor prescribing “off-label and unproven COVID-19 treatments” “. He declined to identify the doctor after the meeting.
Hennessy asked the board to warn all providers to stop using treatments such as ivermectin or hydroxychloroquine, given growing evidence that these drugs are causing harm or may encourage patients to forgo treatment. proven treatments such as monoclonal antibodies.
Doctors can ask their patients to be enrolled in ongoing clinical trials for COVID-19 treatments, including ivermectin if they want to see if it’s effective, he said. “Stop experimenting on Alaskan patients,” he said.
Anchorage hospital worker Stacey Maddox testified on Friday during a shift where she was treating several very ill COVID-19 patients.
Maddox said she hears misinformation from patients every day.
“A patient told me that I was a murderer and that I was trying to kill them,” she said. “Someone told me ‘doctors F’ … I really support the investigating doctors who are involved in spreading this misinformation and I hope that is what the board of directors will do.”
A number of medical providers and members of the public who support the use of ivermectin and other “early treatment” remedies testified against any sanction on Friday.
Among them: Farr’s sister, State Senator Lora Reinbold, R-Eagle River, a avowed mask and vaccine opponent who highlighted her own use of ivermectin after contracting COVID-19 last month.
Representative Ken McCarty, R-Chugiak-Eagle River, also testified in favor of authorizing treatments such as ivermectin. David Morgan, the director of the health department appointed by the Mayor of Anchorage, Dave Bronson, resigned in August after coming under close scrutiny by members of the Anchorage Assembly over his qualifications and his comments on the pandemic.
Anchorage resident Marti Deruelle said she survived COVID-19, but not her husband, Bruce, after being hospitalized with the virus. Deruelle blamed the hospital’s refusal to administer treatments like ivermectin.
“I received the treatment and am here today thanks to Dr Farr,” she said.
Alaska is the latest state to respond to demands from the public and the medical community to discipline medical professionals who spread misinformation or misinformation during the global pandemic.
The Federation of State Medical Boards said doctors who spread misinformation about COVID-19 risk compromising their medical license or face further disciplinary action from state medical boards, adding that sharing inaccurate vaccine information “threatens to further erode public confidence in the medical profession and puts all patients at risk.”
In Washington, a medical assistant had his license suspended after more than a dozen complaints were filed against him for prescribing ivermectin to patients as a COVID-19 treatment.
In Oregon, Dr. Steven Arthur LaTulippe saw his license revoked in September after ignoring COVID-19 warrants, told his patients masks didn’t work and over-prescribed opioids, The Oregonian reported.
In San Francisco, Dr Thomas Cowan voluntarily surrendered his medical license to the California Medical Board more than a year after claiming in a viral video online that 5G technology caused COVID-19, according to a Cal Matters report. .
In some cases, state medical boards have found no basis for disciplinary action in similar cases.
In Idaho, the state medical board chose not to penalize Dr. Ryan Cole, one of the speakers at the recent event in Alaska, following a complaint filed this summer by the executive director of the Project Idaho 97, Mike Satz, who referred to the Federation of State Medical Board’s position that spreading false information can be a cause of discipline.
According to a report by the Idaho Capital Sun, the board of directors responded that no state law or statute “provides a basis for the board to discipline licensees for statements made at a conference. , to the media or in any other public place “.
Alaska law allows the medical board to sanction a physician only if the board finds, after a hearing, that a licensee has demonstrated “professional incompetence, gross negligence, or misconduct. repeated negligent driving ”.
“The board cannot base a finding of professional incompetence solely on the basis that a licensee’s practice is unconventional or experimental in the absence of demonstrable physical harm to a patient,” the law says.