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52% of physicians have experienced mask v. no mask conflict

Sermo physicians respond to the news that the Oregon Medical Board recently suspended Dr. Steven LaTulippe’s license and ordered the family practice doctor to stop practicing medicine until further notice, after he boasted of his non-mask wearing practice. 

According to the Washington Post, “Deriding mask-wearing, Steven LaTulippe has touted his credentials as a ‘practicing physician.’ Last month, he urged Trump supporters gathered in Salem, Ore., to ‘take off the mask of shame’—though hardly a covered face was in sight—and said proudly, to claps and cheers, that none of his clinic staff wore the simple accessories shown to prevent the spread of the coronavirus…LaTulippe also urged people entering his clinic to remove their masks, according to the state board, and directed people to a YouTube video with misinformation. The board dismisses the doctor’s reported claims that masks will harm people by increasing their levels of carbon dioxide: ‘The amount of carbon dioxide re-breathed within a mask is trivial,’ the order for license suspension states.” 

In a poll of 630+ Sermo physicians, 78% said in their experience, there is no negative health impact of wearing a mask—as touted by Dr. LaTulippe. While 91% said physicians and staff should be required to wear masks when practicing medicine during the current pandemic, and 93% do require masks in their office right now, only 63% believe that a physician should have their license suspended for not requiring masks in the office. Overall, 52% have encountered this type of mask v. non-mask conflict during the pandemic. 

Sermo physicians have a lot to say on this heated topic. Here’s a snippet of their thoughts, in their own words:

While I do wear a mask at work, I feel that taking away someone’s license is an overreaction. We do live in a “free country”. And before you say, well, you can’t drive on the wrong side of the road, think about all the people that are allowed to overeat, not control their diabetes, smoke, drink, refuse flu shots, refuse vaccines, etc, and yeah, we all get to pay for their decisions with higher health care costs. Why aren’t they punished?

Family Medicine / Practice (FP)

I disagree with Dr. LaTulippe’s position but his position is certainly not contrary to Medical Ethics. A danish study found no significant difference in rates of contracting COVID between mask wearers and non-mask wearers. Clearly, Dr. LaTulippe has at least some basis in the literature to support his claim. His views are controversial but not unethical, there is no appropriate role for the Medical Board in this case other than to issue a statement that they disagree with his views.

Emergency Medicine

I have mixed feelings about “freedom” & at what point a license should be revoked. However, this guy (from available info) is a nut job. If he claims to be practicing medicine while spreading around THAT kind of verbal manure, well, he needs more practice before getting his license back. That’s not medicine. I have bemusedly wondered on occasion how some of these mask nay-sayers would react if they got wheeled into the OR for their total knee replacement or even laparoscopic happy, and saw the whole crew waiting for him/her bare-faced & bear-handed. Just trying to do things “naturally”, avoid all that CO2, etc. 🙂

Pediatrics (excluding surgery)

I have seen people re-using all types of masks. This includes disposable one time use masks, N95’s that are used for weeks on end. Patients coming in wearing face coverings that attach around their ears but hang freely across their lower faces, or, wearing home made cloth masks that have stretched and not been washed since they were made. People wearing Gaters that they rise and lower at will, and wear for protracted periods of time. The concern of course is the contamination and cross contamination by the “users” of these various masks. However, based on the comments from those who “always” practice “standard of care” and “evidence based medicine”, the type of mask use would seem perfectly appropriate. It should be quite easy to do contract tracing through this Physician’s office to measure the impact of his actions. Another thought, what percentage of our patients follow our good health care behaviors in their personal lives? You know what I am referring to; no smoking, no illicit drug use, diet, exercise, limited alcohol, weight control, vaccinations/immunizations, safe sexual practices, etc. I envy all the purists who can make the claim that their patients are 100% compliant, or maybe, I become more disgusted at their hypocrisy.

Internal Medicine

I got COVID last month and almost died. We will not let anyone in our office without a mask. Patients come to us for advice every day. Waring a mask sets an example for our patients. They also protect lives.

Family Medicine / Practice (FP)

I live in a hotspot of COVID 19 infections. Currently 6 on ICU and 39 on the ward. All staff is required to wear a FFP2 mask. Nobody of the staff complains about masks, even not the asthma or COPD or smokers of the staff. Wearing a mask is really not a great problem, considering, that without a mask the risk of spreading an infection or injuring it COVID is much greater. Therefore any MD, neglecting the regulations and spreading the word of masks neglectance should be suspended. This MD should loose the license, since it increases the spread of the COVID 19.