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Oregon doctor sues state board for suspending medical license due to his derision of mask-wearing during pandemic

Oregon doctor sues state board for suspending medical license due to his derision of mask-wearing during pandemic

by Maxine Bernstein | The Oregonian/OregonLive  |  Published on January 22, 2021

The Oregon doctor who had his medical license suspended last month for failure to require staff and patients to wear masks in his office is now suing the Oregon Medical Board.

On Dec. 3, the board suspended Steven Arthur LaTulippe’s medical license, finding that his Dallas-based practice presents a serious danger to public health and safety. The board found that he and his staff refused to wear masks in the clinic and urged people who came to the clinic wearing masks to remove them.

LaTulippe on Thursday filed a federal lawsuit against the Oregon Medical Board, alleging the suspension violated his due process and free speech rights, contending he’s been penalized due to a “mere difference in medical opinion.”

He contends the admonition to wear masks to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic has been “largely disputed by reputable studies and medical experts,” and claims he has harmed no one.

An investigator with the state medical board found during a Dec. 2 visit to LaTulippe’s clinic that neither patients nor health providers were wearing masks. There were no screening procedures – such as the taking of patient temperatures – before or upon entry to the clinic, and no hand sanitizer was made available in the waiting area. Instead, an article was posted in the public area of the clinic with a passage highlighted that claimed 94% of individuals who will experience serious effects of COVID-19 have co-morbidities, according to the board’s suspension ruling.

The doctor’s “instruction and example to patients to shun masks” actively promotes transmission of the virus within the extended community, and his advice to patients regarding the failure of masks to prevent viral transmission and potential patient harm due to masks, “are counter to basic principles of epidemiology and physiology and undermine acceptability among Licensee’s patients and the general populace of one of the primary measures known to significantly diminish viral transmission,” the board ruling said.

The suit contends that LaTulippe’s staff do not wear masks because they experience shortness of breath, claustrophobia, and panic attacks.

It alleges that the doctor’s medical license suspension will lead to “irreparable harm,” since many of his patients rely on him for pain treatment and prescriptions. The suit said LaTullipe is the only doctor within a reasonable driving distance of Dallas who specializes in pain and addiction.

LaTulippe ran a family practice clinic called South View Medical Arts in Dallas. He made anti-mask comments during a “Stop the Steal” election rally in Salem on Nov. 7. The video was posted on YouTube by the Multnomah County Republican Party

The suit contends the board violated his free speech rights by referencing his comments at the political rally he attended.

The suit contends the doctor never prevented any patient from wearing a mask in the office, and that he never told any individual patient to remove their mask for any reason other than medical necessity.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Portland, seeks reinstatement of LaTulippe’s medical license, and damages issued against the state medical board.

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