Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons cautions doctor after complaints about COVID-19 tweets

The regulatory body for doctors in Ontario has issued three separate cautions to a pediatrician following a series of complaints about her tweets on COVID-19 and the pandemic.

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario posted the findings from its inquiries, complaints and reports committee overnight Wednesday on its public listing for Dr. Kulvinder Kaur Gill.

The complaints related to a series of tweets from Gill’s account last summer that challenged accepted public health advice and regulations.

The tweets that prompted the complaints included: “There is absolutely no medical or scientific reason for this prolonged, harmful and illogical lockdown.”

Another tweet read: “If you have not yet figured out that we don’t need a vaccine, you are not paying attention.”

The complaints committee noted that while there is a range of views about lockdowns and even some drawbacks, Gill didn’t raise those points in the tweets. It found that her statements lacked evidence, didn’t align with public health and were not accurate. The committee pointed to lockdowns in China and South Korea, which did appear to have a mitigating impact on the spread of the virus. 

“For the respondent to state otherwise is misinformed and misleading and furthermore an irresponsible statement to make on social media during a pandemic,” the committee wrote.

It also evaluated her claim that a vaccine was not needed. It noted that a herd immunity strategy “would involve a significant death rate” and that Gill did not provide any evidence for her claim. It concluded that the tweet was “irresponsible” and a “potential risk to public health.”

Doctor said tweets taken out of context

According to the documents, Gill claimed that her tweets were taken out of context and argued they came from a personal Twitter account that is not affiliated with her practice. The committee did not agree with her.

It noted that her Twitter biography made it clear that she is a physician and identifies her as the leader of the group Concerned Ontario Doctors.

According to the decision documents, Gill was cautioned in person, “with respect to a lack of professionalism and failure to exercise caution in her posts on social media, which is irresponsible behaviour for a member of the profession and presents a possible risk to public health.” 

The hearing was held on Feb. 3.

In an email to CBC News, the college said a “caution” is one of the ways in which it is empowered to respond to concerns about a physician’s conduct.

It said the information is posted to the doctor’s public profile so patients “can be aware of the concerns and make informed decisions about their care.”

It also noted that the presence of cautions on a physician’s record can also impact any future complaints and disciplinary action by the college.

The college said it has been notified Gill plans to appeal at least two of the cautions.

Gill did not respond to CBC News’s request for comment.

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