A Florida physician known for being outspoken about COVID-related topics has regained his board certification that was stripped because he publicly criticized COVID vaccines.
Now, Dr. John Littell is moving forward from the experience with plans to help future physicians defend themselves when disciplined for voicing viewpoints that are not in the majority, he told The Epoch Times.
Dr. Littell, a longtime family physician in Ocala and a medical school professor, began posting videos sharing his thoughts about COVID-19 testing, treatments, and vaccines early in the pandemic. He was frustrated to find his content often was pulled down from his YouTube channel.
But he fought against what he saw as censorship by moving the content to other platforms, such as Rumble, he said.
Then, in January 2022 and again five months later, he received warning letters from the American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM), the organization that issued his certification for his medical specialty.
The letter stated that his videos on YouTube and Rumble spread “medical misinformation” and could put his board certification in jeopardy, he said.
The ABFM declined to comment on the matter because the board's "policy indicates we are unable to comment about professionalism cases," an unidentified spokesperson said in an email to The Epoch Times.
The ABFM is the third largest of the 24 boards of the American Board of Medical Specialties. More than 100,000 family medicine doctors are certified by the board, according to its website.
To keep their certification, physicians must uphold the board's ethical standards and "guidelines for professionalism, licensure, and personal conduct," the website states.
In letters from the board, Dr. Littell was told his public statements violated those guidelines. Dr. Littell responded to the letters and continued to speak publicly and post videos about the subjects, he said.
Months later, when he didn’t hear back, he said he thought the threat was gone.
“I was very happily under the radar,” he said.
Outrage Over IvermectinThat changed after he was escorted out of a Sarasota Memorial Hospital board meeting in February for approaching a board member behind the dais. He wanted to thank the board member, he said, for letting him speak at the meeting. He didn't realize that move would be seen as inappropriate, he said.
Shortly after that, security guards escorted him outside.
Many doctors have faced consequences for questioning the efficacy and safety of COVID-19 vaccines and for advocating for the use of medicines such as ivermectin in the treatment of the disease.
Three doctors sued the FDA over the statements, saying it had no power to tell doctors which drugs to prescribe.
Accused of 'Spreading False' InformationThe month after Dr. Littell spoke in Sarasota, the board sent a letter saying he'd been de-certified for “spreading false, inaccurate, and misleading materials about COVID-19, COVID-19 vaccination, and treatment and mitigation of the virus," The Epoch Times confirmed.
His attorney agreed.
Continuing to Speak OutDr. Littell continues to speak out about the same topics. So he suspects he’ll face retribution again, he said.
Around the country, a slew of doctors had board certifications removed and licensure threatened for sharing their COVID-related opinions.
Obtaining good legal advice is key, he said. It also helps to spread the word.
Dr. Littell has no plans to keep quiet about what he feels went wrong during the COVID-19 pandemic
Helping Future DoctorsHe intends to use the remaining money donated to his legal fund to help others respond to similar licensure problems, especially threats faced by medical students, he said.
But asking questions and challenging prevailing thought is important to the goal of continually improving medical treatments, he said.
Medical students taught by Dr. Littell often tell him how difficult it is to be entering the field of medicine at this time, he said.
One student told him that his second-year class was forced to be vaccinated for COVID-19, he said. Classmates were told by their university they'd be "thrown out" of medical school in two weeks if they didn't comply, Dr. Littell said.
The student told him that, although more than half the class didn't want the vaccine, they felt they had no other option, Dr. Littell said. Weeks later, the mandate was lifted. But it was too late—many students already had submitted to getting the shot they didn't want.
"It's like they [university officials] were playing games," he said. "And the students didn't know any better.