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.
Protesters concerned about treatment of people who died while being treated for COVID-19 stand outside a board meeting at Sarasota Memorial Hospital in Sarasota, Fla., on Feb. 21, 2023. (Courtesy of Tanya Parus)
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 Ivermectin
That 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.
Though he’s cared for many patients in hospitals, he’d never attended a hospital board meeting, let alone a contentious one, he said.