Physician, resident, and medical student members of the American Medical Association (AMA) House of Delegates adopted a policy at the association’s special interim meeting in November to combat public health disinformation disseminated by healthcare professionals. The new policy, which calls for the AMA to collaborate with relevant health professional societies and other stakeholders in addressing disinformation that undermines public health initiatives, was conceived due to false claims by some healthcare professionals regarding how the virus is transmitted, untested treatments and cures, and public health efforts such as masking and COVID-19 vaccinations. The AMA will also study the impact of disinformation disseminated by health professionals on public health.
The AMA delegates noted that although the number of health professionals using their professional license to validate the disinformation is small, it has seriously undermined public health efforts. “Physicians are among the most trusted source of information and advice for patients and the public at large, which is why it’s so dangerous when a physician or other healthcare professional spreads disinformation,” said AMA board member Jesse M. Ehrenfeld, MD, MPH, in a press release. “While disinformation has run rampant during the COVID-19 pandemic, we know unscientific claims are being made about other health conditions and other public health initiatives are being undermined. We’re committed to doing everything we can to stop the spread of disinformation and providing accurate, evidence-based information. The lives of our patients and the public depend on it.”