The Lawfare Podcast

The Lawfare Podcast: When Doctors Spread Disinformation

By evelyn douek, Quinta Jurecic
Thursday, July 14, 2022, 12:05 PM

Since the beginning of the pandemic, we’ve talked a lot on this show about how falsehoods about the coronavirus are spread and generated. For this episode, evelyn douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with two emergency medicine physicians who have seen the practical effects of those falsehoods while treating patients over the last two years. Nick Sawyer and Taylor Nichols are two of the cofounders of the organization No License for Disinformation, a group that advocates for medical authorities to take disciplinary action against doctors spreading misinformation and disinformation about COVID-19. They argue that state medical boards, which grant physicians the licenses that authorize them to practice medicine, could play a more aggressive role in curbing falsehoods. 

How many doctors have been disciplined, and why do Nick and Taylor believe that state medical boards have fallen down on the job? What are the possibilities for more aggressive action—and how does the First Amendment limit those possibilities? And how much good can the threat of discipline do in curbing medical misinformation, anyway?