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GP suspended for nine months after promoting vitamins and iodine for covid-19

BMJ 2023; 380 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.p278 (Published 03 February 2023) Cite this as: BMJ 2023;380:p278
  1. Clare Dyer
  1. The BMJ

A GP in private practice has been suspended from the UK medical register for nine months for promoting dubious treatments, including putting misleading claims about covid-19 online.

A medical practitioners tribunal heard that Sarah Myhill posted videos and articles on her website during the pandemic, describing “safe nutritional interventions” which she said were “now so well established that vaccination has been rendered irrelevant.”

But the tribunal was told that the substances were not universally safe and had potentially serious health risks, and there was no evidence that they were effective.

The tribunal found that Myhill, who practises in Powys, promoted and endorsed the use of high doses of vitamins C and D and the inhalation of iodine through a salt pipe for the treatment of bacterial and viral infections including covid. She also promoted the use of ivermectin without articulating the risks and sold an iodine preparation on her website.

“These agents risked patient safety in that they exposed patients to potential serious harm, including toxicity,” said tribunal chair Julia Oakford. Myhill “should have notified the public and her patients that the treatment was not licensed, not universally safe, and that there were potential health risks associated with using the treatment in the manner she recommended.”

The tribunal found that Myhill “does not practise evidence based medicine and may encourage false reassurance in her patients who may believe that they will not catch covid-19 or other infections if they follow her advice.”

Myhill was also found guilty of serious misconduct in failing to reconsider her treatment plan after she failed to diagnose a fractured hip in a patient who had a fall, and in not recommending his admission to hospital when his condition had not improved.

She did not attend the tribunal hearing and told the General Medical Council that she would “shred” any communications she received from it. Counsel for the GMC urged the tribunal to strike her off the register, and the tribunal noted as aggravating factors her refusal to cooperate with the regulator, lack of insight, and the fact that the potential for harm extended to “countless individual people.”

On the other hand, the tribunal considered as a mitigating factor that she had been subjected to more than 30 GMC investigations in the past, affecting her attitude towards the regulator, without any previous findings of misconduct made against her, and that there were no specific patient complaints in this case.

Oakford said the tribunal took the view that Myhill’s individual breaches were not serious enough to constitute fundamental incompatibility with continued registration as a doctor. Erasure would “deprive the public of an otherwise good doctor with over 30 years’ experience.”

Suspension for nine months would give Myhill “time to consider her position and institute remediation and develop insight, having read the tribunal’s determination,” added Oakford. The tribunal ordered a review hearing at the end of the nine months.

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