The State Medical Board of Ohio has renewed the license of a doctor whose baseless and conspiratorial claims about COVID-19 have attracted national attention.
Dr. Sherri Tenpenny, a state-licensed doctor of osteopathic medicine, received a license renewal last week from the medical board, according to an Ohio Capital Journal story. The license had been set to expire Oct. 1 but now is good for another two years.
Tenpenny drew nationwide media attention when, under an invitation from a Republican state lawmaker, she spoke to the Ohio House Health Committee and warned them that COVID-19 vaccines magnetize their recipients and “interface” with 5G towers. A federal judge has deemed her a non-expert in a vaccine injury lawsuit. She is among the 12 most prolific disseminators of COVID-19 misinformation on social media, according to research from the Center for Countering Digital Hate, the Ohio Capital Journey reported.
On a website seeking funds for a business owned by Tenpenny, a post said: “They’re forcing freedom loving Americans to choose between injection of a ‘deadly’ vaccine or testing those who will not comply via torturing them with nasal swabs looking for a ‘virus that, by some claims, doesn’t even exist.’ "
An anti-vaccine activist since the 2000s, Tenpenny has called vaccines a “method of mass destruction” and “depopulation;” charges $623 for her “boot camp” to train people how to convince others to refrain from vaccination; and sells her book, “Saying No To Vaccines” for $578 on Amazon.
State law allows the board, with the votes of at least six of its 12 members, to discipline any physician for “making a false, fraudulent, deceptive, or misleading statement” in relation to the practice of medicine.
This includes misrepresentation of facts that are likely to mislead, or “includes representations or implications that in reasonable probability will cause an ordinarily prudent person to misunderstand or be deceived.”
Licenses expire on a two-year basis.
Jerica Stewart, a spokeswoman for the medical board, confirmed Tenpenny’s license was renewed. She said to keep up with the 92,000 practitioners, the board automatically renews applications. Certain affirmative answers can trigger an automatic complaint stemming from an application, or the board can investigate a complaint or independently launch its own probe. She offered no comment on Tenpenny directly.
“A recent renewal does not prevent the board from taking future disciplinary action,” she said.
Before the board acted Thursday, the Ohio Capital Journal contacted the state medical board and several physician’s associations to ask whether they believe Tenpenny should be recertified as a physician.
Two physician’s associations, when contacted, avoided comment on whether they believed Tenpenny should remain as their peer and colleague.
Todd Baker, executive director of the Ohio State Medical Association, declined specific questions about Tenpenny and referred inquiries to the state medical board.
He pointed to a recent OSMA statement in support of COVID-19 vaccine requirements for health care workers. However, he refused to comment on Tenpenny.
“The investigative process to assess complaints regarding a licensee is also defined in law and rule and the Board is required to follow that process,” he said. “If other physicians or members of the public contact the OSMA with a complaint about a physician for any particular reason, we refer those inquiries to the medical board.”
Matt Harney, executive director of the Ohio Osteopathic Association, said the state medical board has the “authority to investigate possible fraud, misrepresentation, or deception” but declined to answer when asked if he believed Tenpenny perpetuated any such conduct.
He did, however, cite a statement the OOA’s president, Dr. Henry Wehrum, issued after Tenpenny made national headlines with her magnetic vaccines testimony.
“Misinformation is a serious threat to personal and public health and it must be rejected,” he said at the time. “This includes the false and completely unfounded claims made by Dr. Sherri Tenpenny during the Ohio House of Representatives Health Committee on June 8. The OOA disavows her testimony. She is not affiliated with the OOA, has never been a member, and does not represent the views of the OOA.”
State medical boards typically maintain a certain degree of secrecy. Stewart, the board spokeswoman, said any complaints it receives about physicians are confidential, though any disciplinary action would be in the public record.
She made the comment before Tenpenny’s license was renewed.
“The Medical Board takes its responsibility of protecting the health and safety of the public very seriously,” she said.