We’re not infectious disease experts. And neither are most of you.

So when faced with something like the novel coronavirus, the vast majority of us have to put our trust in other people to figure out what to do.

It’s clear now that a dangerous minority of doctors has violated that trust. Whether seeking profit or attention, or out of a tragically misguided sense of right, they are spreading misinformation on COVID-19, and it is getting people killed.

So it is more than appropriate for the boards that license Maine physicians to step in and stop them. They have no right to practice if their medical opinion is causing harm.

The Maine Board of Licensure last week suspended the license of Meryl Nass, an internist from Ellsworth, as it investigates deeper allegations that she is spreading misinformation, including the lie that the COVID-19 vaccine causes reproductive harm.

One of the allegations Nass made herself. At a legislative panel on Gov. Janet Mills’ health-care worker vaccine mandate — which Nass was inexplicably invited to — Nass said that she had lied about a COVID patient having Lyme disease in order to justify a prescription for hydroxychloroquine, a malaria treatment that is ineffective at treating COVID but has been pushed as an alternative to vaccines.

Advertisement

Previously, the board had suspended until February the license of Dr. Paul Gosselin of Waterville, following a review of vaccine-exemption letters he had written for patients, as well as reports of pushing misinformation.

On his website, Gosselin was offering, for a $200 flat rate, a series of treatments not approved nor tested by the FDA, but part of a suite of services pushed by a national anti-vaccination group.

Maine is not alone. As MainePublic reported, more than 20% of state boards have taken disciplinary action against a physician for COVID misinformation.

There is no doubt action is necessary. Too many Americans, while looking for someone to trust on COVID-19, have instead found people denying the basic truth — that vaccines are highly effective at the very least in stopping severe illness and death, and that complications are infinitely rare.

Instead, they push nonsense “treatments” and tell people there’s too much unknown about vaccines, even after billions of shots have been administered.

For some, the doctors’ actions and words affirm their own conspiracy-based objections to vaccines. For others, it adds enough uncertainty to make them hesitant to get a shot.

Advertisement

That leaves us where we are now, with unvaccinated people getting sick and dying at a rate far faster than those who are vaccinated, causing more than 1,000 deaths a day for as long back as we care to remember, and driving the crisis unfolding at hospitals all over the country.

This is America. You have every right to say what you want, when and where you want to, with very few exceptions.

But you don’t have a right to be a doctor, and if you tell patients falsehoods that make it much more likely they’ll die, you should lose that right.

Physicians like that don’t deserve our trust, and they certainly don’t deserve a license.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.