A health care worker prepares a COVID-19 vaccine in a file photo. (Bay Ismoyo/AFP via Getty Images)
The State Medical Board of Ohio has suspended the license of a doctor who has offered criticism of COVID-19 vaccines.
The board suspended Dr. Sherri Tenpenny's license and fined her $3,000 because she allegedly refused to respond properly to complaints that poured in after she testified to state lawmakers.
The suspension is for an indefinite period.
"In short, Dr. Tenpenny did not simply fail to cooperate with a Board investigation, she refused to cooperate. And that refusal was based on her unsupported and subjective belief regarding the Board’s motive for the investigation," Kimberly Lee, a state official, said in the suspension order.
"Licensees of the Board cannot simply refuse to cooperate in investigations because they decide they do not like what they assume is the reason for the investigation," Ms. Lee said.
State law enables the board to discipline medical professionals for "failure to cooperate in an investigation conducted by the board."
Dr. Tenpenny said in a video after the suspension that she had cooperated with the board.
"We cooperated at every level. We looked at the letters; we responded appropriately and legally," Dr. Tenpenny said.
"My lawyers ... drafted responses appropriately and sent it back, and they go, 'nope, you didn't cooperate with us.' Well, I guess that just simply means that they didn't like the answers. But it didn't mean that I failed to cooperate."
Dr. Tenpenny graduated from Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine in 1984 and has been practicing medicine since then. The Ohio license is for osteopathic medicine and surgery.
The board said that it began investigating Dr. Tenpenny after receiving approximately 350 complaints following her June 2021 testimony to the Ohio House of Representatives Health Committee. The testimony included claims that the COVID-19 vaccines were causing people to become magnetized.
“They can put a key on their forehead, and it sticks," Dr. Tenpenny said at the time.
The doctor also raised concerns about side effects, including heart inflammation, that U.S. officials have since acknowledged are caused by the shots.
The board said it was investigating whether Dr. Tenpenny violated the state's Medical Practices Act.
The law says that the board "shall investigate evidence that appears to show that a person has violated any provision of this chapter," including making a false or misleading statement in relation to the practice of medicine.
Marcie Pastrick, a board attorney, said the complaints included allegations that, if true, would be violations of the law.
However, the suspension was because of Dr. Tenpenny's alleged refusal to cooperate as opposed to the allegations in those complaints.
Thomas Renz, a lawyer representing Dr. Tenpenny, was cited as telling the board that Dr. Tenpenny was declining to cooperate with what he described as "the board’s bad faith and unjustified assault on her licensure, livelihood, and constitutional rights." He said that Dr. Tenpenny's testimony was based on "factual reports by third parties," including peer-reviewed studies.
Dr. Tenpenny later told the board that it was investigating without any evidence that she violated state law, but the board noted the volume of complaints and how the law says that the "board shall investigate evidence that appears to show that a person has violated any provision of this chapter."
Dr. Tenpenny must submit an application for reinstatement, pay the fine, and cooperate with the board if she wants it to consider lifting the suspension.
Mr. Renz said that Dr. Tenpenny and her lawyers will fight the suspension in court.
"The board was mad because when they sent her things, we did what they said," he said in a video. "So if, for example, when the board sends out a questionnaire, and it says, 'you can either answer this or you can object, and if you object we can compel'—which means going to court to compel—we objected. Well, they didn't want to go to court to compel, because that would be very inconvenient."
Mr. Renz noted that the Ohio Attorney General's Office said that the process for such investigations would "break down" if authorities had to go to the courts each time to compel.
"This is one of the most shocking things I have ever heard," he said. "We need reform. We need political reform. We need to pass laws now."