The Potluck

GOP bill would grant medical board discretion to investigate doctors over social media comments

By: - March 16, 2022 3:19 pm

Former state Sen. Scott Jensen, R-Chaska, appeared on Laura Ingraham’s Fox News show on April 8, 2020.

A Republican Senate bill would give the state medical practice board discretion to turn down investigations of complaints made against doctors for comments made on social media, as long as they are not directly related to patient care. 

The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Rich Draheim, R-Madison Lake, comes as former Sen. Scott Jensen, R-Chaska — a family doctor with outspoken views about COVID-19 — runs for governor. 

Jensen has often cast himself as defending his First Amendment rights after the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice received complaints made against him for controversial comments he has made on social media about the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Draheim said in an interview that doctors should be able to speak freely. 

“We should still have the freedom of speech no matter what your profession is,” he said, saying Jensen “is a perfect example of that.”

Draheim said the legislation was in part inspired by Jensen’s experience with the state medical board.  

Asked if he is supporting Jensen’s bid for governor, Draheim said he is not endorsing a candidate until after the state GOP convention in May when delegates will vote on which candidate to endorse.

Ruth Martinez, executive director of the Board of Medical Practice, says the agency has not taken a position on the legislation. Martinez said the board strives to be equitable in its processes.Giving the board broad discretion about which complaints to investigate could raise questions about fairness, she said. The board currently investigates all complaints it receives.

Complaints made to the board are not public unless a disciplinary action is taken, but Jensen has publicized the times he has received letters from the board about complaints made against him. 

In October, he said in a YouTube video that he had received his fifth letter from the Board of Medical Practice saying his license was being investigated. 

Jensen was removed from TikTok for making incorrect or misleading claims about the pandemic, and his Facebook advertising was curtailed for similar reasons. 

A request seeking comment from Jensen’s campaign was not immediately returned. 

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.