More than 40 physicians are currently being investigated by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) for promoting unproven treatments for COVID-19 or sharing unverified information about its vaccines, Global News can reveal.
The revelation comes after Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott publicly urged the CPSO to crack down on a group of doctors accused of spreading unverified medical information about the vaccines, after the situation was brought to light in a Global News investigation.
During a press conference on Wednesday morning to update Ontarians on the province’s fight against the Omicron variant, Elliott labelled the reports “extremely concerning.”
“At a time when it’s never been more important for Ontarians to have confidence in the safety and effectiveness of vaccines, this is unacceptable,” she said.
Elliott said she would be sending a letter to the CPSO “urging them to do everything that is possible to put an end to this behaviour.”
“They should consider all options in doing so, including reviewing the licences of physicians found to be spreading misinformation,” Elliott says.
But the CPSO says they are already doing that.
Currently, more than 40 physicians are being investigated in regards to their conduct relating to COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, a CPSO spokesperson said. Some are the subject of multiple complaints.
Seven have suspensions or restrictions placed on their medical licences. The rest can continue to practice without any additional restrictions.
However, the bar to suspend or restrict a medical licence is set high and must demonstrate that a physician’s conduct “exposes patients to harm” or was necessary to warrant immediate disciplinary action to “protect the public,” a CPSO spokesperson said.
The spokesperson said the CPSO “takes these issues very seriously” and court orders had been sought in “several cases” to ensure they are fulfilling their mandate and ensuring “the public is protected.”
“The College has been clear about our concerns related to physicians who are utilizing their unique positions of trust to promote unsupported, unproven treatments for COVID-19; and who are undermining public health measures,” he said.
According to the CPSO’s last annual report, in 2020, the College received complaints about 2,832 physicians over the course of the year.
The CPSO spokesperson said almost half of these were resolved early, which meant they did not represent a threat to patient safety.
Allegations of inappropriate prescribing of COVID treatments and the issuance of fraudulent vaccine exemptions represent “significant concerns” for the CPSO because of the “extraordinary risk” to public safety that they represent, the spokesman said.
There are currently 35,543 active physicians in the CPSO.
Global News’ investigation revealed that a number of doctors — mostly located in B.C. and Ontario — are sharing unverified information on blood clots and myocarditis side effects, while others have been accused of issuing false medical exemptions for wearing a mask or receiving a vaccine. Several have claimed the vaccine “kills children.”
All of the doctors, except one, have active medical licences.
The College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia (CPSBC) refuses to release the number of complaints they have received in relation to COVID-19.