The Hill Update - May 13

Dean discusses why physicians are having a difficult time because their views on the pandemic don’t conform to the official messaging of government officials.



On this week's show, we’ll tackle an important topic that has generated many discussions in the past year — and that’s doctors’ views on the pandemic — but views that don’t conform to the official messaging of government officials. Many of us have seen at least a few viral videos of US or Canadian doctors who presented a different take on the pandemic and its handling. Their opinions usually differ from what we’ve been hearing from government officials.

Is it wrong for some doctors to ask questions about the choices made by government officials when things change so quickly? Should they be silenced and punished if they are concerned about the effects of restrictions on their patients that is based on actual data they are seeing on the ground?

For speaking out, many of these doctors have had their videos taken down from social media platforms and their careers blemished or ruined. Many of them have been labelled conspiracy theorists or worse. In order to deal with these differing voices within its membership, at the end of April, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO), issued a statement. This is what the CPSO had to say:

"The College is aware and concerned about the increase of misinformation circulating on social media and other platforms regarding physicians who are publicly contradicting public health orders and recommendations. Physicians hold a unique position of trust with the public and have a professional responsibility to not communicate anti-vaccine, anti-masking, anti-distancing and anti-lockdown statements and/or promoting unsupported, unproven treatments for COVID-19. Physicians must not make comments or provide advice that encourages the public to act contrary to public health orders and recommendations. Physicians who put the public at risk may face an investigation by the CPSO and disciplinary action, when warranted. When offering opinions, physicians must be guided by the law, regulatory standards, and the code of ethics and professional conduct. The information shared must not be misleading or deceptive and must be supported by available evidence and science."

Much of this statement makes sense. But what about the part that says, “Physicians must not make comments or provide advice that encourages the public to act contrary to public health orders and recommendations.”? Public health orders and recommendations are generally guided by public health officials who usually listen to doctors on the ground and follow the science and evidence — which often times evolves quickly and is updated and changed, especially in a situation where there is a novel disease such as COVID-19. So, is it wrong for some doctors to ask questions about the choices made by government officials when things change so quickly? Should they be silenced and punished if they are concerned about the effects of restrictions on their patients that is based on actual data they are seeing on the ground? The CPSO is saying that they will punish any doctors who speak out, including on the increasingly documented harms of lockdowns.

There are many doctors speaking up about the dangers of lockdowns due to the increase of overdoses and other substance abuse problems, anxiety, mental health issues, and depression, just to name a few that have increased expediently over the last year. Should they not speak up about what they’re observing? This sort of silencing by the CPSO is very troubling. Many physicians feel like they need to speak out against restrictions that they feel are harmful to the health of their patients. Dr. Shawn Whatley, a former president of the Ontario Medical Association, had this to say on the subject: “Despite undeniable suffering due to lockdowns, the CPSO wants Ontario doctors to stay quiet.” It seems like the CPSO wants doctors to only offer up official talking points when discussing COVID-19. And that’s wrong. But this Ontario regulator isn’t alone in doing this. British Columbia is now jumping on board and saying physicians and surgeons who go against current public health policy could face disciplinary actions as well. Why attempt to silence physicians and surgeons to this extent? Why all the censorship? Was there not a time at the start of all this when top public health officials were all warning that wearing a mask might be more dangerous than not wearing one? Was there not a time in the beginning of the pandemic last year when we were told that only those exhibiting symptoms could spread COVID-19? Was there also not a time that we were told that shutting down travel would not help stop the spread of the virus? As I mentioned earlier, public health recommendations and government policies during the pandemic have changed many times. So we need to let doctors speak out in this quickly evolving environment. Because they might just have the next piece of critical evidence in this quickly evolving environment. My guest on this show is Dr Ira Bernstein and he will speak to the issue of silencing doctors and getting in the way of evidence.



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