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‘Microaggressions’ May Cause Oregon Doctors to Lose Licenses if Proposed Rule Adopted

A newly proposed ethics rule regarding microaggressions by the Oregon Medical Board (OMB) could leave doctors in the state without medical licenses.

The OMB is reportedly in the process of finalizing an ethics rule regarding unprofessional conduct, which would include adding “microaggressions” into the definition, according to the Washington Free Beacon. The outlet notes that under the rule, doctors who do not report “unprofessional conduct, “within 10 business days,” may face extreme consequences, such as losing their medical license.

Dr. Stanley Goldfarb, a former associate dean at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and the father of Michael Goldfarb, a chairman of the outlet explained that this rule will have a “chilling effect on speech” and result in a “deterioration in the patient-physician relationship.”

“Physicians need to be able to speak frankly and honestly with their patients,” Goldfarb told the outlet. “If they believe that they can be sanctioned because they deliver bad news or make a comment that the patient misinterprets, this will lead to a chilling effect on speech and ultimately lead to deterioration in the patient-physician relationship.”

Under ORS 677.190, the OMB “may refuse to grant, or may suspend or revoke a license to practice for any of the following reasons,” including “unprofessional or dishonorable conduct,” “obtaining any fee by fraud or misrepresentation,” and “prescribing controlled substances without a legitimate medical purpose,” among other things.

Derald Wing Sue, a professor at Columbia University, is described by the Oregon Department of Transportation as being a “well-known scholar on microaggressions.”

Sue explains that microaggressions can show up in three forms:

  1. Microassault: an explicit racial derogation; verbal/nonverbal; e.g. name-calling, avoidant behavior, purposeful discriminatory actions.
  2. Microinsult: communications that convey rudeness and insensitivity and demean a person’s racial heritage or identity; subtle snubs; unknown to the perpetrator; hidden insulting message to the recipient.
  3. Microinvalidation: communications that exclude, negate, or nullify the psychological thoughts, feelings, or experiential reality of a person belonging to a particular group.

The outlet notes that the rule would expand the definition of unprofessional conduct to include, “discrimination through unfair treatment characterized by implicit and explicit bias, including microaggressions.”

The rule, which has thus far flown under the media radar, expands that definition to include “discrimination through unfair treatment characterized by implicit and explicit bias, including microaggressions, or indirect or subtle behaviors that reflect negative attitudes or beliefs about a non-majority group.” Discrimination, the rule states, is defined as “differences in the quality of healthcare delivered that is not due to access-related factors or clinical needs, preferences, and appropriateness or intervention.”

Elizabeth Ross, a policy analyst with the OMB explained to the outlet that the OMB “does not expect this rule to change the way physicians, PAs, or acupuncturists practice because discrimination in the practice of medicine/acupuncture is already considered unethical and prohibited by federal laws and facility bylaws.”

Ross added that the OMB would consider adopting the rule during an upcoming meeting on July 11.

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