The Oregon Medical Board is standing by its suspension of a local doctor who boasted that he and his staff have not worn masks during the coronavirus pandemic, ruling that he cannot practice medicine until the state lifts a public emergency health order.
In its final order on May 6, the board declared Steven LaTulippe “an immediate danger to the public and a serious danger to the public health or safety.”
LaTulippe, who owns the family practice clinic South View Medical Arts in Dallas, had been issued an indefinite suspension by the board in December due to his stance on mask-wearing. The board’s decision last week confirmed this suspension, reasoning that his “refusal to wear a mask, his refusal to ensure that his staff wore masks, and his insistence on advising his patients to not wear masks endangered public health and safety by placing Licensee’s patients, his staff, and Licensee himself— plus all other individuals with whom they came in contact — at risk of infection of a highly communicable and deadly disease.”
LaTulippe publicly told a crowd of supporters of former President Donald Trump in November that he did not enforce mask-wearing in his medical office, despite executive orders in Oregon requiring personnel to wear properly fitted masks when in a health care setting.
“I hate to tell you this, I might scare you, but I and my staff, none of us, once wore a mask in my clinic,” he said. “And how many problems did we have in our clinic from that? Zero.”
An investigation by the state’s medical board found a number of patient complaints regarding LaTulippe’s clinic.
People said they were urged to remove their masks when they entered the clinic and were not provided with hand sanitizer or any COVID-19 screening protocol. One patient said LaTulippe suggested their elevated blood pressure may be from wearing a mask and said they were at risk of carbon dioxide toxicity from wearing it.
LaTulippe’s wife, who worked as a medical assistant and office manager at the clinic, told a patient on at least one occasion that COVID-19 was no different than a cold and that the flu was more dangerous, according to the board’s investigation.
Another patient, who had potentially been exposed to COVID-19, said she called LaTulippe’s clinic for medical advice and that LaTulippe’s wife directed her not to get tested or self-isolate so that she, and others, would build immunity to the disease. The patient said she asked to speak to someone else but was denied. After calling the office again, but refusing the advice of LaTulippe’s wife, the patient said she received a letter in the mail informing her that she and her family were no longer welcome at the clinic.
LaTulippe filed a lawsuit against the medical board in January over its initial suspension. He denied that his office didn’t have screening protocols and denied ever telling a patient not to wear a mask in his office, though he reiterated his belief that masks are ineffective at preventing transmission of the virus.
“Medical experts and reputable studies reveal that masks are ineffective at curtailing the spread of COVID-19,” his suit states. He said he does not require his staff to wear masks because of “shortness of breath, claustrophobia and panic attacks” and that only symptomatic people must wear them in his clinic.
LaTulippe has the right to appeal the suspension to the state’s Court of Appeals within 60 days. His legal representatives did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.
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