FSMB updates medical misinformation policy

The Federation of State Medical Boards has updated its "Professional Expectations Regarding Medical Misinformation and Disinformation." In July 2021, FSMB released a statement reminding physicians of the high degree of public trust placed on them and of their ethical and professional responsibility to share factual and scientifically-grounded information - and that spreading COVID vaccine misinformation could result in disciplinary action. The updated policy includes five recommendations for state medical boards:

  1. "State medical boards are encouraged to adopt a policy that clarifies board expectations
    regarding the dissemination of misinformation and disinformation by licensees.

  2. State medical boards must retain their legislated authority to regulate the professional
    conduct of licensees in order to effectively protect the public.

  3. When adjudicating cases regarding misinformation and disinformation, state medical
    boards are encouraged to consider the full array of authorized grounds for disciplinary
    action in their Medical Practice Acts.

  4. When appropriate, state medical boards should consider whether there are options that do
    not involve disciplinary action that could help a licensee understand the ethical basis of
    their duty to convey accurate information to patients and the public and change or
    remediate their behavior appropriately.

  5. State medical boards should not be dissuaded from carrying out their duty to protect the
    public by concerns about potential challenges to disciplinary decisions when these
    decisions are based on sound regulatory considerations for public protection."

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