College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta to discuss warning to anti-vax doctors
Emergency meeting scheduled for Monday night to discuss standard of care statement
Some Alberta doctors have issued vaccination and mask exemptions to patients while others are actively spreading misinformation on social media, the president of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta said Monday.
The college is holding an emergency public meeting tonight to discuss issuing a statement to doctors about their obligation to adhere to practice standards set by the provincial regulator, college president Dr. Louis Francescutti said in an interview Monday.
"There are very few, it is very rare," Francescutti said.
"The ones that do that come to our attention, receive a phone call from someone at the college.
"And if it contravenes what we believe is in the best interest of the public, they are given a verbal warning and the majority of them go, 'Oops, sorry about that,' and change their practice and the ones that don't run the risk of having a complaint filed against them."
CBC News was directed to several Alberta doctors promoting vaccination and masking misinformation on social media, including Dr. Rashad Chin, an Edmonton emergency room doctor.
Chin's Twitter feed is filled with retweets that question COVID-19 lockdowns and the value of vaccines, including videos of People's Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier.
Bernier and the PPC are vocal critics of vaccine passports and mask mandates, arguing the party is standing up for freedom of choice.
Chin did not respond to several requests for comment. On Monday afternoon the Twitter account was switched from public to protected meaning people have to be approved to view tweets.
Francescutti confirmed the college is aware of Chin's social media presence and that of other doctors.
"That is what this meeting is about tonight," he said. "To address social media and how far physicians can go on social media when they are at times in opposite disregard to what the science is telling us."
College to issue guidance letter to doctors
Francescutti said the meeting will determine exactly what a letter to the profession will say.
Francescutti acknowledged any letter would not be binding, but he expects it will remind doctors of the college's "expectations around the pandemic and how the profession should be behaving."
The letter will also help provide guidance to doctors who may be pressured by patients to provide vaccine or mask exemptions.
"The college isn't looking for a fight with anyone," he said.
"It just wants to make sure that the public understands physicians will not tolerate any kind of abuse. And if a patient goes into a physician's office and is abusive to staff or to the physician, then the physician can discharge that patient."
Alberta has the highest rate of unvaccinated people in Canada and its intensive care units have been overwhelmed in the past week.
Francescutti stressed there are very few medically legitimate vaccine and mask exemptions.
He acknowledged the behaviour of some doctors is not helping the dire situation in Alberta's intensive care units.
"The majority of people are doing the right thing and I applaud them for that," he said, adding that there are a handful of doctors, nurses, lawyers and people in other professions who spread misinformation.
"We have to try and be patient and explain to them that this is for real," he said. "It is too bad they don't come and spend some time in the intensive care unit and see people gasping for breath."
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