California Physician Alert: Be Very Careful About What you Say About Covid to New/Prospective Patients
As you all know, AB 2098 is, for now, the law of the land in California. Hopefully it won’t be after our preliminary injunction hearing on Monday.
I think all physicians should assume that the Cali boards (medical and osteopathic) will try to enforce the law. But there is problem: How are they going to find out who is spreading “Covid misinformation” to their patient? My guess or assumption is that current patients aren’t going to be the ones complaining. So, here is what I think the workaround will be, taking into consideration the intense animosity which many rabid pro-vaxxers have evidenced towards physicians who have expressed concerns in public about vaccines.
By way of background, I was around after the marijuana compassionate use referendum was was implemented. The authorities felt that there were a bunch of physicians who were selling these prop 216 get-out-of-jail medical marijuana letters to patients. So the authorities sent undercover agents posing as patients making obviously bogus claims for the letter. A couple of the most high profile advocates were targeted, caught, and disciplined.
I think the same thing might happen with Covid misinformation. If you’re one of the many dozens of doctors who have spoken out against the vaccines or in favor of off-label Covid treatments, you can expect to be targeted, and not necessarily by board investigators.
These AB 2098 lawsuits have revealed that random rabid pro-vaxxers have been threatening doctors who are not all-in for the vaccines. I think you can expect that some of them will attempt either a telephone or in-person consult to trap you into saying something which will allow them to file a complaint for Covid misinformation. You should expect that your conversation will be recorded and forwarded to the board.
Per the above, I think the biggest danger are to the highly visible vaccine concerned physicians. I am already aware of one such example which seems suspicious. And the point here is there is no way to know whether someone calling for an appointment to discuss vaccine safety is legitimate or trying to set you up. Yea, it’s sad and pathetic, but it’s the times we live in if you are a California physician and where the boards do not have all the tools they would like to ferret out you medical deviants. (as they think of you). Hence the work-arounds.
So for sure (and I probably don’t need to tell you this), no information or advice about Covid over the phone for someone who is not an established patient. (And you shouldn’t be giving any advice over the phone to a new patient). Second, don’t be too clever by half. There is no document you can create (like have the patient state that they are not an undercover investigator, and are presenting for a good-faith consultation) which can immunize you from a board investigation.
As a fairly conservative board lawyer (meaning I view my job as protecting doctors from unwanted and expensive government attention), I reluctantly say that until the dust settles on these AB 2098 lawsuits, if you are a vocal critic of AB 2098 or the vaccines, or have publicly advocated for the use of off-label meds for Covid, for now, I’d keep those opinions to your established patients, unless you have an appetite for unwanted and legally expensive government attention.
Rick Jaffe, Esq.
3 thoughts on “California Physician Alert: Be Very Careful About What you Say About Covid to New/Prospective Patients”
All if this just makes me sad. I can’t imagine being a doctor and going through all that schooling and working your tail off to help people. Your hands are tied and it is just wrong. Please join organizations where you can feel supported like ones for physicians for informed consent. Part of me is angry that my daughter needs a real doctor care that she has a seizure over vaccines and you doctors trying to help her get an education are unable to.
With that said, I understand this attorney advice. I can pray for an opening where the tide will turn at some point but we do live in evil times. Thank you as always for your legal assessment on the state of California.
thx. sojo soon!