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Connecticut doctor's license suspended for mailing vaccine, mask exemptions without examining patients

The state Medical Examining Board agreed Friday to temporarily suspend the medical license of a Durham physician who is accused of giving out exemptions for coronavirus vaccines and masks without examining — or even knowing — the patients requesting the documents, state records show.

Dr. Sue McIntosh is accused of allowing people to mail her Durham practice a self-addressed, stamped envelope to receive signed exemptions, state Department of Public Health documents said. Her license to practice medicine and surgery is suspended until a hearing can be held on Oct. 5, officials said.

The exemption paperwork that McIntosh mailed to people included explanations of what various exemptions would be, such as cancers, autism disorders, autoimmune disorders and others, and how to fill out the exemption paperwork, documents said.

“You may copy and distribute as many forms as you wish to anyone,” the instructions provided by McIntosh said. “Keep blank copies for yourself for future use.” She ended the instructions with “Let freedom ring!” the DPH documents said.

The DPH received an anonymous tip on July 30 that McIntosh was allowing the general public, including people who she had never seen as patients before, to receive the exemptions, documents said.

A section chief with the DPH’s investigation unit learned of the complaint on Sept. 10, an affidavit said. The next day, Christian Andresen, the section chief, sent McIntosh a self-addressed stamped envelope using his home address, he confirmed in the signed affidavit.

On Sept. 16, he received a packet from McIntosh that included signed exemption forms and instructions on how to use them, the investigator said. The paperwork included exemptions for receiving coronavirus vaccines, exemptions for wearing masks to combat the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19, exemptions for receiving vaccines in general, and exemptions for routine testing that is sometimes required of people who have not been vaccinated.

The DPH issued a motion for summary suspension of McIntosh’s license this week. The board voted unanimously during an emergency meeting held Friday morning to suspend her license until Oct, 5, officials said. Under the suspension, she is not allowed to practice medicine until at least Oct. 5.

According to the DPH documents, McIntosh deviated from the standard of care by failing to properly diagnose or examine people who had been given the exemptions. She also failed to build a patient and physician relationship with those who requested the exemptions, failed to obtain their medical history and failed to comply with Centers for Disease Control & Prevention guidelines by providing advice that was harmful to the public.

McIntosh did not respond to a request for comment. After the Oct. 5 hearing, the DPH could recommend a variety of disciplines, including a fine, probation with restrictions and education requirements, or the revocation of her Connecticut license to practice medicine if the allegations are found to be true.

The board then would be required to vote again on any discipline.

In July, the Federation of State Medical Boards warned physicians that they could face disciplinary action by their own state medical boards for spreading misinformation about coronavirus vaccines.

Physicians have “an ethical and professional responsibility to practice medicine in the best interests of their patients and must share information that is factual, scientifically grounded and consensus-driven for the betterment of public health,” the federation said in the warning.

Christopher Boyle, DPH spokesman, said in September that if the agency receives a complaint that a physician was spreading coronavirus vaccine misinformation, the Practitioner Investigation Unit will investigate.

This story was reported under a partnership with the Connecticut Health I-Team (c-hit.org), a nonprofit news organization dedicated to health reporting.

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