'Should doctors who spread misinformation lose their credentials? This group thinks so' (4)

14 June, 2022

It's worth reading the short interview ( https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/should-doctors-who-spread-misinformation-... ) and especially the numerous comments made (over 500), largely by US physicians. It shouold be stressed that the concern was: "when we have people saying things with which no reputable doctor would agree, and putting it out there and saying, "And you should listen to me because I'm certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine, because I’m a licensed doctor". In such a case it is surely appropriate for the ABIM to intervene.

In the discussion following the interview, there are many comments about, "who is going to judge that something is misinformation or not" - and the concern that a new age of censorship was about to arise. Of course, the problem here is that disinformation, the deliberate spreading of incorrect information, is not the same thing as misinformation, which is the spreading of incorrect information by accident, or becasue you don't know better. Deliberately spreading disinformation is surely an offence, while spreading misinformation is regrettably done by everyone (including scientific journals) all the time. There is also a large gray area, where deliberate disinformation is accepted as being true and spread further by people who actually believe it - the internet is where this gray area spreads unchecked.

I think the most relevant response to this paper was from the reader who said, "It's illegal to yell fire in a crowded building and to make jokes about a bomb threat in airports (and other public places).... A doctor swears an oath to first do no harm. That oath requires them to choose inaction before action when they have any concerns action could lead to harm. Spreading false information is guaranteed to lead to patient harm, and so the physician profession must incorporate this into their ethics requirements."

Chris Zielinski


Blogs: http://ziggytheblue.wordpress.com and http://ziggytheblue.tumblr.com

Research publications: http://www.researchgate.net

HIFA profile: Chris Zielinski: As a Visiting Fellow in the Centre for Global Health, Chris leads the Partnerships in Health Information (Phi) programme at the University of Winchester. Formerly an NGO, Phi supports knowledge development and brokers healthcare information exchanges of all kinds. Chris has held senior positions in publishing and knowledge management with WHO in Brazzaville, Geneva, Cairo and New Delhi, with FAO in Rome, ILO in Geneva, and UNIDO in Vienna. Chris also spent three years in London as Chief Executive of the Authors Licensing and Collecting Society. He was the founder of the ExtraMED project (Third World biomedical journals on CD-ROM), and managed the Gates Foundation-supported Health Information Resource Centres project. He served on WHO’s Ethical Review Committee, and was an originator of the African Health Observatory. Chris has been a director of the World Association of Medical Editors, UK Copyright Licensing Agency, Educational Recording Agency, and International Association of Audiovisual Writers and Directors. He has served on the boards of several NGOs and ethics groupings (information and computer ethics and bioethics). UK-based, he is also building houses in Zambia. chris AT chriszielinski.com

His publications are at www.ResearchGate.net and https://winchester.academia.edu/ChrisZielinski/ and his blogs are http://ziggytheblue.wordrpress.com and https://www.tumblr.com/blog/ziggytheblue