The regulatory body behind physicians in B.C. is reminding doctors there could be consequences for spreading misinformation during the pandemic.
The message was released in a joint statement from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC and the First Nations Health Authority. Indigenous peoples in B.C. test positive at twice the rate of the general population, and have faced large inequities in the health care system.
“Misleading information adds another barrier at a time when the COVID-19 vaccine needs to be delivered to Indigenous people as quickly as possible,” said Dr. Nel Wieman, acting deputy chief medical officer at the FNHA.
The college said it has become aware that “some B.C. physicians are spreading information that contradicts public health orders and guidance,” noting that health care professionals have a higher than usual responsibility when disseminating pandemic-related information because of the trust placed in them by the public.
“Public statements from physicians that contradict public health orders and guidance are confusing and potentially harmful to patients,” said Dr. Heidi Oetter, registrar and CEO of the college. “Those who put the public at risk with misinformation may face an investigation by the College, and if warranted, regulatory action.”
While the college did not specify if their warning was related to a specific doctor, a case of a physician spreading COVID misinformation in B.C.’s Interior has raised concerns before. In April, Dr. Charles Hoffe claimed that the Moderna vaccine led to “numerous” allergic reactions – including anaphylaxis – and that three people were exhibiting “ongoing and disabling” neurological deficits.
In response, Interior Health said that COVID vaccines are safe, and that the vaccines have been demonstrated to be safe and effective through all levels of clinical trials.
When Black Press Media asked if Hoffe was being investigated, the college said it could not share anything about ongoing investigations, citing privacy concerns.