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Sherri Tenpenny: A quack’s medical license bites the dust, but for the wrong reasons

Earlier this month, the Ohio State Medical Board suspended the medical license of Dr. Sherri Tenpenny, a longtime antivax quack. The only question is: What took them so long, and why did it take the pandemic for them to act? Also, is there less to this action than meets the eye?

Earlier this month, I got the news that the Ohio State Medical Board had finally suspended the license of Dr. Sherri Tenpenny, a notorious antivax quack practicing in the suburbs of Cleveland whose misinformation and quackery I’ve been discussing intermittently dating back to 2011 and even blog since 2009 (although I had mentioned her going back to at least 2007). Most people who have heard of Dr. Tenpenny learned of her in 2021, when she became infamous for claiming that COVID-19 vaccines cause people to become magnetized:

Two years ago, a Cleveland area physician strode into the House Health Committee room and told state lawmakers that COVID-19 vaccines magnetize their hosts and “interface” with cell towers.

Her comments, the subject of widespread ridicule, triggered a swarm of 350 complaints to the State Medical Board and a chain of events that led to the regulators indefinitely suspending the medical license Wednesday of anti-vaccine activist Sherri Tenpenny.

The term “chain of events” is important. The reason that the Board suspended Dr. Tenpenny’s medical license actually has little to do with her decades-long practice of rank quackery and promotion of antivaccine misinformation and more to do with procedural issues:

The board, charged with protecting the public and overseeing the licensure of Ohio’s doctors, yanked Tenpenny’s license on procedural grounds rather than the substance of her comments. Board staff found she flouted investigators who came to visit, declined to answer written questions, and objected wholesale to the regulators’ inquiry.

“Dr. Tenpenny, neither you nor any doctor licensed by this board is above the law, and you must comply with the investigation,” said Dr. Jonathan Feibel, an orthopedic surgeon and medical board member. “You have not done so, and therefore, until you do, your license will be suspended.”

Dr. Amol Soin, a pain management specialist and board member, said at the hearing that the suspension has nothing to do with vaccines, magnets, or cell towers, but about the board’s basic duty to oversee conduct of physicians and physicians’ responsibility to comply.

“The license to practice medicine is not a right. It’s a privilege. A privilege that is earned, and a privilege that you have to uphold,” he said. “And as you get that license, and as you obtain that privilege, you consent to certain reasonable things. And a reasonable thing you consent to… is to cooperate when someone complains about you. In this case, 350 complaints. It is a very reasonable thing to cooperate in that scenario.”

Let me just say that I do like the statement about medical licenses being a privilege, not a right. As a result of our education and training, society and the state grant us physicians the privilege of practicing medicine, a privilege that, in my case as a surgeon, allows me to commit what under other circumstances might be called assault and battery with the use of sharp instruments to remover or rearrange parts of a human being’s anatomy in order to treat cancer and other disease. It allows oncologists to administer toxic substances to treat disease. It lets us legally ask the deepest and most intimate questions about patients and their lives, all in order to diagnose and treat them. Too many of my colleagues forget what a privilege it is to be given these powers and come to treat their medical license more as a right than a privilege, a viewpoint that, unfortunately, seemingly informs the law of some states, allowing utter quacks to continue to practice, mostly unmolested by their state medical boards. (Yes, I’m talking about Texas, but not just about Texas.)

As I wrote in 2010:

If there’s one area that SBM needs to do better in, it’s regulating our own. To me, the license to practice medicine is a privilege, not a right. That I should even have to emphasize such a statement is bothersome to me, but all too often medical licenses, once obtained, seem to be treated as a right that can’t easily be taken away. That’s not to say that actually getting to the point of being licensed and board-certified isn’t difficult. It is. There’s the need to maintain excellent grades in college, after which there’s medical school and residency, both of which can be quite brutal. But once a physician is fully trained, board certified, and licensed, it seems that medical boards bend over backwards not to take away his license, seemingly even if he’s providing treatments so far outside the standard of care that they might as well be magic.

That brings me to what I’ve been emphasizing the last couple of weeks. Even if you have a problem with state medical boards or medical specialty boards sanctioning physicians for promoting dangerous health misinformation, you should have no problem with them sanctioning physicians who practice rank quackery, as Dr. Tenpenny did. I’ll have more to say on this later, but I thought that the case of Dr. Sherri Tenpenny would be worth discussing, if only to show how long before the pandemic she had been antivax, as well as to vent a little of my frustration over how it wasn’t her quackery that got her license suspended but rather her refusal to cooperate with the Board’s investigation.

Dr. Tenpenny before the pandemic

As I said, I first mentioned Dr. Tenpenny in 2007, but I never really did a post that was primarily about her until 2009. Also, the suspension of her medical license last week reminded me that, compared to the likes of, for example, Andrew Wakefield—or even Dr. Bob Sears—I haven’t written that much about her over the years. Granted, she wasn’t a top tier antivax doc like Wakefield or Sears or a number of the others about whom I routinely wrote (and sometimes ranted) before the pandemic. She was second-tier. However, that doesn’t mean that she was unimportant in the antivaccine movement. Indeed, she was important enough to be featured on a conspiracy cruise alongside Wakefield in 2016. Or maybe that they were featured together on such a cruise was evidence of how far Wakefield had fallen by that time. I can be persuaded either way.

So who is Dr. Tenpenny? As I said, she’s been around for a long time and has practiced antivax quackery quite a while. I always find it useful to check out a quack’s website to see what the quack thinks of herself; so here is the description from Tenpenny’s website:

Dr. Sherri J. Tenpenny is an osteopathic medical doctor, board certified in osteopathic medicine, with a proficiency certification in Integrative Medicine. She was board certified in Emergency medicine from 1986 to 1998, when worked as a full-time Emergency Medicine physician and served as Director of a Level II Trauma center.

The founder of Tenpenny Integrative Medical Center, a clinic located near Cleveland, Ohio, her clinic provides natural, holistic approaches to getting well. Their success has attracted patients from all 50 states and at least 17 countries.

Dr. Tenpenny has invested 21+ years and far more than 40,000 hours researching, documenting, and exposing problems associated with vaccines. She is a frequent speaker at national and international conferences and a regular guest on radio shows, podcasts and on TV, sharing her highly researched information on why we should just say no to vaccines.

It is utterly unsurprising that Tenpenny is “certified” in Integrative Medicine, what I like to refer to as a medical pseudospecialty that is based on “integrating” quackery with medicine. I also like her claim to have spent 40,000 hours “researching, documenting, and exposing problems associated with vaccines”. Does anyone ever bother to do simple division. Divide 40,000 hours by 24 hours/day, and you get just shy of 1,667 days (or 4.6 years) if you assume that she’s working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. That is, of course, totally unrealistic. Let’s say that she was working 8 hours/day, and then that becomes 5,000 days (or 13.7 years), but that’s still unrealistic. No one works 7 days a week full time for that long. In any case, you get the idea. Her claim of having spent 40,000 hours “researching, documenting, and exposing problems associated with vaccines” is such an exaggeration that it is utter BS.

Perusing her website, I saw once again that Tenpenny offers a variety of evidence-free quack “detox” protocols. She touts one of them thusly:

You’ve probably heard me say this countless times, almost all disease is a result of two things: Excess of toxicity and a lack of nutrients, especially minerals. Mercury, aluminum, vaccine-related chemicals, and environmental poisons including arsenic, lead, cadmium, pesticides, and volatile organic compounds are just some of what we are exposed to every day. Imagine the damaging effects of heavy metals when they are injected into our bodies through vaccines?

This is, of course, a common trope shared among “integrative medicine” quacks and antivax doctors, that “almost all disease” (at least she qualified it with an “almost,” something not all such docs do) is due to “toxicity” or bad diet, with—of course!—vaccines near the top of the sources of the “toxicity,” along with pesticides and chemicals. So what is her solution? Zeolite (which, by the way, cures cancer—that is, if you believe some of its proponents going back decades). But not just any Zeolite. Oh, no. To her, “most zeolite products do not work” because:

To most from the gut and into cells, the zeolite must be nanosized and suspended in water molecule clusters. With that formation, this natural detoxifier can travel throughout the body and even cross the blood-brain barrier. You can start to see why this is important for those who want to detox from vaccines.

Actually, I can’t, but that’s because I practice science-based medicine.

Tenpenny claims that you have to use her preferred Zeolite, Clinoptilolite Zeolite (whatever that is), which, conveniently enough, she sells on her website:

After doing extensive research, I discovered Pure Body Extra Strength manufactured and distributed by a company called Touchstone Essentials. They use a cleansing and nanosizing technology that is hands-down the most advanced on the market. The particles that are contaminating the zeolite are removed and the zeolite honey-comb is filled with alkalizing minerals. That way, the zeolite “swaps out” a beneficial mineral for a toxin it absorbs. The amount removed has been confirmed by a third-party independent laboratory.

Even better (if you believe Tenpenny):

Nanometer-sized particles can get into cells and can “mop up” toxins within hours of administration. And because this form of zeolite is encapsulated within water molecule clusters, it can be administered as a liquid spray. That makes it easy to use: just take a few sprays, morning, noon, and night. There is no odor, no taste, and no hassle.

So. Much. Water. Woo. (Plus Zeolite detox woo.) She’s also recommending Nattokinase-based quackery, which I discussed not too long ago. I’m sure she gets no kickbacks for selling this Zeolite and offers it only out the goodness of her heart, for the good of her patients. Of course she is. She also recommends a “parasite protocol” by Dr. Jason Dean. Unsurprisingly, “Dr.” Jason Dean is a chiropractor, not a real medical doctor. Meanwhile, on Amazon, you can find books by her that indicate that she has been rabidly antivax for a long, books with titles like Vaccines: The Risks, the Benefits, the Choices, a Resource Guide for Parents (2006) and Saying No to Vaccines: A Resource Guide for All Ages (2008).

You get the idea. But what about her antivax advocacy? First, let me quote something that she wrote in 2007, and ask yourself whether it sounds familiar or not:

At the beginnings of ‘Public Health’ policy, efforts were made to convince persons to participate through cooperation. Since that late 1960s, the pendulum has swung from education and collaboration to heavy handed coercion through advertisement campaigns designed to shame and terrorize parents into believing the are neglecting their children by questioning, and at times refusing, vaccines. The current example of heavy handedly slapping of parents into “compliance” is a further example of how far our freedoms have eroded. While we drop bombs and fire bullets around the world to ensure the freedom of others, we are incarcerating parents for doing what they believe is in the best interest of their children. Wake up, Americans. What will they be incarcerating us for next in the name of compliance?

Antivaxxers are nothing if not unchangingly consistent in their messaging. I also can’t help but point out the consistency of the “Nuremberg” messaging among antivaxxers, because that post reminded me that the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), a fake medical society that I’ve been referring to as a medical John Birch Society since at least 2006, liked to use Nuremberg comparisons about “informed consent” in 2007 (and likely for a long time before that):

WHEREAS: Safety testing of many vaccines is limited and the data are unavailable for independent scrutiny, so that mass vaccination is equivalent to human experimentation and subject to the Nuremberg Code, which requires voluntary informed consent; and

WHEREAS: The process of approving and “recommending” vaccines is tainted with conflicts of interest;

BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED: That AAPS calls for a moratorium on vaccine mandates and for physicians to insist upon truly informed consent for the use of vaccines.

Truly, everything old is new again. But back to Sherri Tenpenny.

Does anyone remember what Tenpenny did in 2019, a few months before the pandemic, in the midst of a deadly measles outbreak in Samoa that had killed dozens of children? I frequently refer to what Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. did during that outbreak, namely how he wrote to the Prime Minister of Samoa blaming the MMR vaccine for the outbreak, rather than the dramatic decline in MMR uptake that resulted because of a tragic error by two nurses mixing up the vaccine that caused the deaths of two infants and how he and other antivaxxers swooped in to fear monger about the MMR as children were dying. Well, Tenpenny was one of the antivaxxers who swooped in, when she  claimed that the outbreak had been related to the delivery of over 100,000 doses of MMR to Samoa. She and Grundvig also trotted out the old antivax trope about measles being curable with vitamin A.

Nor was this the first time that Tenpenny had spread antivax misinformation in an underdeveloped country during an outbreak of a vaccine-preventable disease that was killing children. Ten years before the deadly measles outbreak in Samoa, Tenpenny did basically the same thing when children were dying of measles in Zimbabwe. In response to reports that 30 children had died of the measles in Zimbabwe at that point, Tenpenny wrote something that will likely sound very familiar today:

Study these numbers. We’ve had SARS, Bird flu and Swine flu. On average, approx. 190 children/year die from the flu. Considering there are about 62M kids under the 14 years of age in the US, this is NOT “statistically signficant” [sic] and should not even make the radar screen. See how they manipulate parents into vaccinations?

Next year, PLEASE do not be afraid of the flu. Ever person here should pass this on to at least 25 people! Please pass this to at least 25 friends.

That’s right. To her 190 dead children were not “statistically significant,” and she was using that number to downplay the deaths of children from measles. As I asked at the time, can you imagine how Tenpenny and her ilk would descend upon me if I were ever to write that one case in a million of a severe adverse reaction to vaccination is “statistically insignificant”? (I’ve never said that, of course.) Tenpenny would howl with outrage at my “insensitivity” and “callousness.” Note also how this very message has been increasingly echoed by “respectable” physicians like Dr. Vinay Prasad about COVID-19, that it kills an “insignificant” number of children. The message is the same; only the disease is different. Also, 190 children dying of any one cause is a lot! Children aren’t supposed to die.

In case you’re wondering what other quackery she practices, just take a look at her Substack post about the Board hearing, in which she bemoans the Board’s decision and lists what existing patients should do, which is to keep their appointments and be seen by one of Dr. Tenpenny’s minions working at her “integrative medicine” practice:

If you are an existing or future patient at Tenpenny Integrative Medical Center (we’ve had patients from all 50 states and more than 18 countries), please continue with your appointments for with my team:
  1. SRT for allergies. Due for an annual tune up? Call today!
  2. Bio-identical hormones evaluation/treatment – ask for Sandi or Dr. Clapper
  3. Nutritional evaluation and supplement program – the entire team!
  4. Pain relief with mannitol injections – Carla can treat you
  5. Neuropathy relief wit Neurogenix – Mike knows all about this
  6. Nutritional IVs – we have many – ask Danielle and Laura
  7. Care of your unvaccinated children – ask Dr Jackson. She is trained in cranial manipulation for your babies who have crossed eyes or are struggling to nurse.

Of course, cranial manipulation/craniosacral therapy is utter quackery (even more so when inflicted upon infants); so are nutritional intravenous infusions and SRT for allergies, while the rest are, at best, unproven. SRT, in case you didn’t know, stands for Sensitivity Reduction Therapy for allergy elimination. Here’s a description of what it entails:

While you are in contact with the allergen, a series of acupuncture points along the spinal column are activated through pressure to open the energy channels connected to the central nervous system. A series of specific acupuncture points on the arms and legs are stimulated to open all the meridians flowing through the body. You will be asked to rest quietly on the treatment table while holding the allergen for 15 minutes as part of the treatment. After your treatment, you will be asked to maintain a strict avoidance of that allergen for 3 hours. In addition, you will be told to avoid all food and beverage for 3 hours after the treatment. Water is generally allowed. Be sure to eat prior to each appointment. Each session lasts about 30 min.

The actual treatment is painless and seems simple. However, it is EXTREMELY powerful and effective. There will be changes that affect your entire body’s physiology. Side effects include body aches, headaches, sweating, and nausea. Even though these reactions are uncommon, if they persist more than 48 hours, be sure to call the office for instructions.

You read that right. SRT, which apparently was invented by Dr. Tenpenny, involves the patient holding the allergen—not a good idea if the patient’s allergic reaction goes beyond hives and into, for example, anaphylaxis—while the practitioner applies acupressure to acupuncture points. Given that acupuncture is mystical, prescientific nonsense whose history has been hopelessly retconned to portray it as “ancient wisdom”, SRT strikes me as not just quackery, but potentially dangerous quackery.

It thus appears that, while her license is suspended (for however long that is), Dr. Tenpenny will do just fine with income from her integrative medicine practice. Moreover, the rest of the Substack entry asks for donations to her legal fund, podcast subscriptions (which, she notes, “will become an important part of my income too”), and other offerings. As is often the case for doctors like this, it is likely that Dr. Tenpenny will continue to do just fine financially. She might even prosper more as the latest “free speech martyr” and “brave maverick doctor” being subjected to “persecution”.

Sherri Tenpenny: Quackery meets hubris

Sherri Tenpenny has a history of antivaccine beliefs and practicing a wide variety of quackery dating back to late last millennium; yet it took her making bonkers statements about COVID-19 vaccines magnetizing people and interacting with 5G cell phone signals before the board actually tried to do anything. Before that, apparently, she had been practicing more or less untouched by the Ohio State Medical Board, selling her Zeolite quackery, refusing to vaccinate, and practicing all manner of “integrative medicine” quackery in a quiet Cleveland suburb. As I argued when I discussed the toothlessness of state medical boards and the faltering attempts of medical specialty boards to deal with physicians who spew misinformation, it is rare for advocacy of dangerous health and antivax misinformation not to be coupled with the actual practice of quackery based on that misinformation. The two almost always go hand-in-hand. For those who are uncomfortable with medical boards sanctioning physicians for speech—even though I would counter that it is not censorship but rather quality control to provide consequences for physicians who endanger public health with deadly misinformation—then surely advocates of science-based medicine who are uneasy about the conflict between the First Amendment and sanctioning physicians for spreading misinformation can get behind sanctioning physicians like Tenpenny for practicing quackery.

Unfortunately, we never got the test, because hubris carried the day, with Tenpenny, apparently under the instructions of her lawyer Thomas Renz, decided to stonewall and refuse to cooperate. I have the PDF the medical board’s letter describing its actions, and the description of the stonewalling is truly amazing. It documents multiple attempts by Jason Alameda, a Board Enforcement Investigator, to contact Dr. Tenpenny and then:

On September 7, 2021, Ms. Pastrick mailed to Dr. Tenpenny the Board’s First Set of Interrogatories (“Interrogatories”). The Interrogatories were mailed to Dr. Tenpenny’s address of record by certified mail. (St. Ex. 2 at 2-24; St Ex. 9; Tr. at 18) Tracking information from the United States Postal Services shows that the Interrogatories were delivered on September 9, 2021. (St. Ex. 2 at 25-26) The Interrogatories asked for information regarding Dr. Tenpenny’s practice in general as well as asking specifically about her practice regarding recommendations concerning, and administration of, vaccines and whether any of her patients subsequently contracted certain illnesses. The Interrogatories also specifically ask how many doses of COVID-19 vaccines she had provided and whether she had personally received a COVID-19 vaccine. (St. Ex. 2 at 7-16) The Interrogatories also asked Dr. Tenpenny what scientific evidence she had, and specifically asked that she cite her sources for this evidence, regarding COVID-19 vaccines causing people to become magnetized or creating an interface with 5G towers; regarding the COVID-19 vaccine not injecting a real virus but strips of genetic material and patients suffering complications such as abnormal bleedings, myocarditis, strokes, and neurological complications; and regarding some major metropolitan areas liquifying dead bodies and pouring them into the water supply. (St. Ex. 2 at 18-19) Dr. Tenpenny’s responses to the Interrogatories were due by October 8, 2021. (St. Ex. 2 at 2-3)

Renz, however, responded:

In a letter dated September 20, 2021, Thomas Renz, Esq., of Renz Law, LLC., the only licensed attorney who signed the letter3, objected to the Interrogatories in their entirety, as well as an August 11, 2021 letter from the Board regarding a method of investigation into a potential violation of R.C. 4731.22 which is not part of the Notice. (St. Ex. 3) While much of the letter addresses an issue which is not the subject of the current case, as to the Interrogatories, Mr. Renz, wrote, “The September 7th Interrogatories are invasive, irrelevant to any inquiry into (St. Ex. 3 at 3) Mr. Renz further wrote that Dr. Tenpenny would not respond to the Interrogatories and asserted that “[d]eclining to cooperate in the Board’s bad faith and unjustified assault on her licensure, livelihood, and constitutional rights cannot be construed as an admission of any allegations against her.” (St. Ex. 3 at 3) Mr. Renz also wrote that most of Dr. Tenpenny’s statements which were quoted in the August 11, 2021 letter4 were “based on factual reports by third parties – including peer-reviewed studies published in mainstream medical journals.” (St. Ex. 3 at 2)

The letter also noted that Tenpenny and Renz had been informed that things could…escalate…if Tenpenny didn’t respond, up to being subpoenaed to testify and even having her license suspended:

Please be advised that you are required by law to cooperate in an investigation conducted by the Board. Failure to appear for the office conference as scheduled may result in the issuance of a subpoena to compel your appearance at a deposition. Further, failure to cooperate in the Board’s investigation, including failure to appear and/or failure to answer questions truthfully at the office conference, constitutes legal grounds for discipline that may potentially result in the denial, suspension, or revocation of your license to practice, as well as a civil penalty up to $20,000.00.

Unsurprisingly, when the Board did as it had warned and upped the ante by subpoenaing Dr. Tenpenny, Renz responded:

By letter dated October 31, 2021, Mr. Renz5 wrote, “. . . Dr. Tenpenny is in no way obligated to and will not cooperate in the Board’s bad faith and unjustified assaults on her licensure, livelihood, and constitutional rights.” (St. Ex. 5 at 1) Mr. Renz incorporated the claims and defenses made in his September 20, 2021 letter and made several additional legal arguments. He argued that there were no legal grounds for the Board’s investigation as the Board had not presented the basis to Dr. Tenpenny, and he cited to R.C. 4731.22(F)(1)6. Mr. Renz also argued that Dr. Tenpenny, as a party at a hearing, was entitled pursuant to R.C. 119.13 to have an attorney represent her and to have that attorney cross-examine witnesses7 and that the Board was attempting to mislead her on her rights by citing to R.C. 9.84 in its letter accompanying the subpoena8. (St. Ex. 5 at 1-2) Mr. Renz also alleged bad faith on the part of the Board:

Bad faith is evident by your failure to present evidence that our client violated a provision of Chapter 4731, your erroneous and misleading citation to R.C. § 9.84 regarding her right to counsel, your failure to communicate directly with our law firm regarding this subpoena, and your complete lack of any grounds whatsoever for continuing to harass Dr. Tenpenny.

(St. Ex. 5 at 2)

In addition, Mr. Renz wrote: For the foregoing reasons, the October 12, 2021, subpoena is demonstrably unlawful and unenforceable and, therefore, Dr. Tenpenny will not participate in the Board’s ongoing illegal fishing expedition. Declining to cooperate in the Board’s bad faith and unjustified assault on her licensure, livelihood, and constitutional rights cannot be construed as an admission of any allegations against her.

Mr. Renz also wrote that further attempts to enforce the subpoena or obtain responses to the Interrogatories would result in a filing requesting declaratory and injunctive relief as well as any other available remedies. (St. Ex. 5 at 3)

First, note how Renz, invoking the sort of attitude that I decry, namely the idea that a medical license is a right and not a privilege and couching his response all in the language of rights. Even so, it is the height of hubris to refuse to cooperate or answer legitimate legal demands of the State Medical Board. To be honest, one could argue that Renz was not doing his client any service in choosing this tactic, which he surely must have known would have a high likelihood of ending up with the board suspending his client’s medical license. I could be wrong, but I can only speculate that he did this precisely because he knew that this would be the likely end result and that such a suspension would allow him to portray his client as the “persecuted” victim of medical board overreach and “censorship.” If that’s true, I can only further speculate that such a tactic would be a last resort, something to invoke when you know that, after an investigation, the board would likely still suspend his client’s medical license. My only question is whether Tenpenny understood this and agreed to this hardball tactic, which the board dismissed thusly:

As to Dr. Tenpenny’s claims that the Board was attempting to investigate statements which were public and/or political speech and therefore protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, Dr. Tenpenny has not provided sufficient evidence of what those statements were in order to enable a determination to be made of whether such statements were protected speech. Further, there is insufficient evidence to show that the Board’s investigation was initiated due to any protected speech.

Unfortunately, in the latter part of the letter, a lot is redacted, which I find curious given that the investigation was the result of 350 complaints based on her public statements and not, apparently, individual patient complaints, where one would expect private information to be protected from public view. In any event, I note that this suspension is not necessarily permanent. The Board’s letter instructs Tenpenny and Renz:

CONDITIONS FOR REINSTATEMENT OR RESTORATION: The Board shall not consider reinstatement or restoration of Dr. Tenpenny’s license to practice osteopathic medicine and surgery until all of the following conditions have been met:
  1. Application for Reinstatement or Restoration: Dr. Tenpenny shall submit an application for reinstatement or restoration, accompanied by appropriate fees, if any.
  2. Payment of Fine: Dr. Tenpenny shall have fully paid the fine as set forth in Paragraph B of this Order. In the Matter of Sherri J. Tenpenny, D.O. Page 17 Case No. 22-CRF-0168
  3. Certification of Cooperation with Board Investigation: Dr. Tenpenny shall submit a written statement from the Board’s Enforcement Division that Dr. Tenpenny has fully complied with all subpoenas and interrogatories issued to her by the Board.
  4. Additional Evidence of Fitness To Resume Practice: In the event that Dr. Tenpenny has not been engaged in the active practice of osteopathic medicine and surgery for a period in excess of two years prior to application for reinstatement or restoration, the Board may exercise its discretion under Section 4731.222, Ohio Revised Code, to require additional evidence of her fitness to resume practice.

So, basically, what it sounds to me is that all Dr. Tenpenny has to do to get her license back is to submit an application for reinstatement (plus fees), promise to start cooperating with the Board, and pay her fines. Granted, the Board will continue to investigate and there’s no guarantee that she would not still have her license suspended, perhaps permanently, after the investigation, but I’m less optimistic. After all, this blog’s history is littered with reports of utter quacks being disciplined by their state medical boards with, in essence, slaps on the wrist involving fines plus mandated education and supervision of their practices by the board for a specified period, which is what happened in the case of Stanislaw Burzynski, a cancer quack who had been practicing his quackery since the late 1970s.

In the end, this result is, as is too often the case, unsatisfying. As a friend suggested to me, we should take the “win” here (viewing this as a win), and certainly it is a good thing that Dr. Tenpenny can no longer practice medicine. Unfortunately, if she decides to start cooperating with the Ohio State Medical Board, she could well have her license reinstated while the investigation is ongoing, and the ultimate penalty might be of the “slap on the wrist” variety that I described above—or even nothing at all. In the meantime, she will be portrayed as a free speech martyr, a “medical maverick” that “They” had to “cancel” or “silence”. At least she won’t be able to inflict her quackery on patients anymore for the foreseeable future. Given her decades-long history of doing just that, I guess that I, too, reluctantly view the outcome of this case thus far as a “win”.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

15 replies on “Sherri Tenpenny: A quack’s medical license bites the dust, but for the wrong reasons”

“You read that right. SRT, which apparently was invented by Dr. Tenpenny, involves the patient holding the allergen—not a good idea if the patient’s allergic reaction goes beyond hives and into, for example, anaphylaxis—while the practitioner applies acupressure to acupuncture points.”

I can nearly guarantee that they’re doing the “essence” nonsense used by Applied Kinesiologists where the substance is contained inside a small, sealed glass jar and poses no actual harm to the subject.

I had a chiroquack use this technique on me some 20+ years ago, which sort of started my entire path down through scientific skepticism and gaining more education in science.

Remember, kids, acupuncture is just theatrical placebo!

For the wrong reasons? I feel that is a matter of perception. Yanking the license of a doctor for refusing to respond to evidence of endangering the health of patients seems perfectly reasonable to me. It demonstrates a complete disregard for the health of patients and the profession.

Should Tenpenny’s license been suspended well before this time? Absolutely. But, I am not going to quibble about the fact that the licence was suspended on “procedural grounds”, because those procedural grounds are pretty damning.

As a physics type, I was struck by her noo-agey nonsense about magnetism and so on — which weirdly sounds very 19th Century.

I’ve been a professor for may whole career, and taught the intro courses many times, often the “pre-med” sequence (though aspiring docs sometimes do take the “scientists and engineers” version).

I’m also pretty old, and live near a tertiary-care medical center, which means I’ve had a LOT of doctors, When I tell them what I do, the ones I’ve thought were good generally say “Oh, I enjoyed learning that stuff in college!”. And the long-awaited day finally arrived a couple days ago when the attending in quiet emergency department came in to see me, and said “You were my physics teacher!”. I went back to my office and looked up his old records — he was an excellent student!

Which leads to my actual point — even if a physician is not “using” this or that bit of their science education every day, there is value in having a broad-based scientific education. Doctors are not trained monkeys, or shouldn’t be — they should have a strong overall sense of how the natural world works. Tenpenny obviously has no clue, and look where that got her.

@ palindrom:

Thank you for providing a real world example about how general education has far reaching consequences.
Unfortunately, most of the “educators” who “teach” on the net probably lack the basics OR, if they acquired them, don’t share them with their audience because doses of reality might sabotage their business plan.

Anti-vax- whether it involves Covid denialism or an imagined link to autism- has to leave out fundamental facts such how immunity/ infection works or how the brain develops, respectively. The general public usually does not study these topics in detail, if at all, so it’s easy for charlatans/ poseurs to manufacture unlikely scenarios and scare tactics that aim at decreasing rates of vaccination.

They masquerade as concerned investigators or righteous rebels but like most CT mongers, they include grains of truth amongst their many fabrications to entice followers and enhance their own brand.

There has to be a set of warning lights that automatically alert the general public that that intriguing dude** on Substack/ FB/ IG/ X is BS personified.

** and some women

When I tell them what I do, the ones I’ve thought were good generally say “Oh, I enjoyed learning that stuff in college!”.

Very neat. When I’ve told doctors/nurses/technicians I teach statistics the general response is that it was their least favorite subject. 🙂
[I think there’s a reason: for too many years basic stats was taught as basic calculations with artificial data. The trend now is to illustrate issues with real data and real interpretations: I think it’s a much better approach.]

Quack Meryl Nass on her mind numbingly bad substack hints that Tenpenny maybe getting ready to sue the Ohio medical board. I guess that’s the latest thing for these losers. Paul Thomas is now appealing his lawsuit to the 9th circuit Court, which is funny because I think he’s only doing it to keep raising grift from his minions. Apparently Nass is doing this as well in Maine. I guess they’re working under the premise then if any one of them succeeds that it’ll somehow open the door for the rest of them.

Well, I am always happy to see women branch out into new fields but I’ll draw the line at Nass and Tenpenny becoming expert litigious cranks.

From Meryl’s latest Substack:

“So now I am going to subject you to some of what I have accomplished, simply to demonstrate I know what I am talking about.”

(Among other things, Meryl boasts of having been a National Merit Scholar, traveling to 50 countries and having 2 children. So don’t you dare challenge her on treating Covid)

My upcoming Substack article is titled “If I Were King of the Forest”, so damn straight I know what I’m talking about when it comes to bridge design.

Yippee. I was a National Merit Scholar too and haven’t mentioned or used the fact since my college admission application.😂

I suspect you’re right – any qualified lawyer would tell him his chances are very, very low. But another advantage is that lawsuits are stressful and costly for the boards disciplining them.

I don’t think it’s as lenient – in particular, the second condition requires her to provide a confirmation from the enforcement division that she complied with all subpoenas, which, if there are 350 complaints, are likely quite a few. It doesn’t sound like it would be too easy, though it’s certainly possible. One question is how lenient will the enforcement division be in holding her to this, which may depend on how much she annoyed them previously.

Thinking about this for a while, I vaguely recall that anti-vaxxers used to claim that they spent thousands of hours studying vaccines but it was usually 10000 or 14000 IIRC not 40 000! I guess she was working harder than anyone else.

I vaguely recall that anti-vaxxers used to claim that they spent thousands of hours studying vaccines

I don’t think we should count time looking for anecdotes from like-minded people that support your existing beliefs to be studying.

“I also like her claim to have spent 40,000 hours “researching, documenting, and exposing problems associated with vaccines”. Does anyone ever bother to do simple division. Divide 40,000 hours by 24 hours/day, and you get just shy of 1,667 days (or 4.6 years) if you assume that she’s working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. That is, of course, totally unrealistic. ”

Maybe they are homeopathic hours. Spend one hour thinking about something like vaccines and it counts as thousands of hours thinking about vaccines.

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