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Doctors to be held responsible for anti-vaccination disinformation

Anti-vaxxers were back in the news this month after one Instagram influencer referred to Samoa as “NaziSamoa” after they put in place a mandatory vaccination programme. Samoa has seen an alarming number of measles cases among children in the country, due in part to online influence campaigns around the world that cite untrue dangers of vaccinating children.

Doctors are speaking out against the influencers as an extension of their responsibilities to provide duty of care to patients they treat.

Earlier this year, the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Authority (Ahpra) and 16 national health boards announced they would hold medical practitioners responsible for providing accurate vaccination information to patients and their family members. Over the past several years, a growing number of individuals and groups have spread disinformation to the public, citing dangers of vaccines that have been medically disproven.

Medical professionals held to account

Martin Fletcher, chief executive of Ahpra, made clear the government organisation would take action against medical professionals who spread disinformation surrounding vaccines.

“We take seriously any case of practitioners spreading dangerous and misleading anti-vaccination information including on social media,” Fletcher said. “They will face regulatory action or prosecution. We are asking the public to tell us if their practitioner is doing this. If you raise your concerns with us we can investigate and protect others.”

Sceptical government will take action

More than 80 measles cases were reported in Australia by April of this year, putting 2019 on track to exceed the 103 measles cases reported for the entirety of 2018. Now, some are sceptical that Ahpra and the government at large will truly hold medical practitioners accountable for vaccination disinformation.

Ken McLeod, spokesman for Friends of Science in Medicine, says he and his colleagues have filed hundreds of reports with Ahpra over the last decade, citing medical professionals for disseminating anti-vaccination disinformation.

“If Ahpra and other regulators had responded properly to our notifications, today’s picture would be different,” MecLeod said. “Because this is more than just false advertising. I consider it medical malpractice.”

Medical negligence doesn’t just happen in the operating room. Doctors have a legal obligation to provide you with accurate, thorough medical information. If you or a loved one have suffered the consequences of medical negligence, you may want to consider your legal options to receive compensation for ongoing health effects, illness, death of a loved one, lost income or psychological damage.

At Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation Lawyers we are confident in our ability to obtain your maximum value in your medical negligence claim. Call us on 1800 004 878 or complete our email enquiry form.

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