The AMA seeks to combat health professionals who spread misinformation

In response to doctors and other medical professionals spreading misinformation and lies during the COVID-19 pandemic, the American Medical Association has adopted a policy aimed at counteracting misinformation while holding those responsible accountable to their professional boards.

False claims made by health professionals may be directly related to topics such as the promotion of unproven COVID-19 treatments, inaccurate allegations of vaccine side effects, and non-evidence-based public health guidelines. The root of the problem is related to a dozen people, who make up almost two-thirds of social media posts against vaccines.

Because these individuals can benefit from misinformation, the AMA said it is necessary to pay attention to both the individual’s ability to find an audience that is misleading and their ability to benefit financially from that audience.

“Physicians are a trusted source of information for both patients and the public, but the spread of misinformation by few has consequences for the entire profession and causes harm,” AMA President Gerald E. Harmon, MD, said in a statement. “Physicians have an ethical and professional responsibility to share accurate information, correct misleading and inaccurate information, and direct people to reliable sources of health information. The AMA is committed to countering misinformation, and we need to address the root of the problem. We need to ensure that health professionals who disseminate misinformation do not have the opportunity to use wide-ranging platforms, which often benefit them financially, to spread dangerous health claims. Although we are unlikely to undo the damage caused by disinformation campaigns during the COVID-19 pandemic, we can act now to help prevent the spread of misinformation in the future.

The new policy calls on the AMA to work with health professionals and other relevant organizations to implement a comprehensive strategy that includes the following priorities:

  • Maintain the AMA as a trusted source of evidence-based information for physicians and patients,
  • Provide access to evidence-based medical and public health information by engaging with publishers, research institutions and media organizations to develop best practices around paid walls and preprints to improve access to evidence-based information and analysis,
  • Address the disinformation disseminated by health professionals through social media platforms and pay attention to the monetization of the dissemination of misinformation on social media platforms,
  • Train health professionals and the public on how to recognize and spread misinformation,
  • Consider the role of healthcare companies in serving as appropriate fact-checking units for health-related information disseminated by different media platforms,
  • Encourage lifelong learning to be available to fact-checking health professionals to help prevent the spread of health-related misinformation,
  • Ensure that licensing boards have the authority to take disciplinary action against health professionals to disseminate health-related misinformation, and confirm that all statements in which a health professional uses his or her authority are professional conduct and can be verified by their licensor. authority,
  • Ensure that specialized councils have the right to take action against the certification of the board of health professionals disseminating health-related misinformation, and
  • Encourage state and local medical societies to commit to dispelling misinformation in their jurisdictions.

The report notes that social media platforms have increased the possibility of spreading misinformation. It concludes that combating misinformation disseminated by health professionals, especially on social media, will require a tripartite approach: removing the priority of misinformation in social media algorithms, affirming and empowering reactive fact-checking and tackling any basic structure for stimulating health professionals dissemination of health-related misinformation.

Originally published by our sister brand, Medical economics.

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