The state Medical Examining Board agreed Tuesday to withdraw the charges filed against a Durham physician accused of providing fraudulent exemptions for COVID-19 vaccines and masks after she voluntarily relinquished her medical license while it was suspended.
Sue McIntosh, a retired former physician, will not face any discipline and will not be able to practice medicine unless she seeks a formal reinstatement before the board, state Department of Public Health officials said.
The board’s vote was unanimous. The board did not discuss the case before the vote, other than a comment by Chair Kathryn Emmett who said since McIntosh had voluntarily surrendered her license, “there was no license to reprimand.”
McIntosh was accused of deviating from the standard of care by failing to properly diagnose or examine people to whom she issued signed exemptions for COVID-19 vaccines and masks. The state said that McIntosh failed to build a patient and physician relationship with those who requested the exemptions, failed to obtain their medical history and failed to comply with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines by providing advice that was harmful to the public.
The board suspended McIntosh’s medical license on Sept. 24 after a brief investigation revealed that she was providing signed exemptions to anyone who sent a self-addressed, stamped envelope to her Durham address, according to DPH documents.
The exemption paperwork that McIntosh would mail back included explanations of what various exemptions would be, such as cancers, autism disorders, autoimmune disorders and others, and how to fill out the exemption paperwork, documents said.
“You may copy and distribute as many forms as you wish to anyone,” the instructions provided by McIntosh said. “Keep blank copies for yourself for future use.” She ended the instructions with “Let freedom ring!” the documents said.
DPH officials recommended that the board withdraw the charges on the grounds “the continued prosecution of the case is unnecessary, and it is in the interests of administrative economy to terminate proceedings.”
McIntosh voluntarily surrendered her license on Oct. 1, before a hearing could be held on the state charges.
In July, the Federation of State Medical Boards warned physicians that they could face disciplinary action by their own state medical boards for spreading disinformation about COVID-19 vaccines. DPH officials said in early September that any complaints about COVID-19 vaccine misinformation would be investigated. The DPH received an anonymous tip that McIntosh was mailing people exemptions on July 30.
Due to the nature of the allegations, the DPH sent out an advisory requiring all long-term care facilities to review exemptions to determine if any staff required to be vaccinated had received an exemption from McIntosh. The DPH did not provide information if the investigation uncovered widespread fraudulent exemptions. No one on the board asked about the number of exemptions during the meeting.