Should Pediatricians Be Able to “Fire” Parents?

“There are growing numbers of college-educated parents, who are talking to their pediatricians about whether there is adequate scientific evidence to support the safety of giving children three times as many vaccinations as they use to get,” said Barbara Loe Fisher, co-founder and president of the National Vaccine Information Center. “Rather than engaging them in a constructive conversation, too many pediatricians are simply slamming the door and denying medical care to children when educated parents ask too many questions or want other options.”

Despite recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Medical Association (AMA) urging doctors to maintain relationships with patients and provide medical care to families, more and more pediatricians are “firing” parents who refuse, delay or alter the vaccine schedule for their children, telling them to seek treatment elsewhere.

AAP policy states, “Families with doubts about immunization should still have access to good medical care, and maintaining the relationship in the face of disagreement conveys respect and at the same time allows the child access to medical care.”

A national survey published in Pediatrics in 2010 concluded that “more than 1 in 10 parents of young children use an alternative vaccination schedule” and 22% have serious safety concerns about the vaccine schedule that doctors recommend.

A national poll by C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital found that 9 in 10 parents rank vaccine and drug safety as their top priority for child health research.

A recent survey of 900 doctors conducted at Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics in Kansas City, Missouri, found that 21% of doctors stopped seeing patients, who refused vaccines or asked for alternative vaccination schedules. This past summer, the Chicago Tribune reported that doctors are refusing to treat unvaccinated children and described a letter eight doctors in a big pediatric practice sent to families informing them they would no longer see children, whose parents declined to follow the CDC-­recommended childhood vaccination schedule.

“In addition to families with healthy children, who want to make selective vaccine choices, there are lots of families, whose children have severe allergies or have experienced previous vaccine reactions, and want to reduce vaccine reaction risks,” said Fisher. “When pediatricians threaten parents, families may stop seeking regular check-­‐ups and may end up not vaccinating at all instead of delaying or spacing out the vaccines.”

American Medical Association (AMA) guidelines state that a doctor may refuse medical care only after giving the patient enough notice to find another physician. State rules vary, but doctors generally must document the behavior, inform the patient what the problem is, give him or her a chance to change and, finally, send a certified letter stating the relationship is over. However, they must continue to provide medical care, as needed, for an additional 30 days. The AAP has also published guidelinesfor pediatricians electing to dismiss families if they do not follow AAP and CDC vaccination recommendations.

What do you think?  Do physicians have the right to choice who they want to treat?  Do parents have the knowledge to make important medical decisions on behalf of their children?

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Lainie Gutterman - Before giving birth to her son in 2009 and becoming a stay-at-home mom, Lainie was a founding partner of a Public Relations firm. Lainie describes herself as "a natural born publicist who is constantly spreading the word about new products, activities and events." When Lainie is not chasing after her son or they are not watching Nick Jr or reading together, she scrapbooks and writes posts for her blog, "Me, Myself & Baby I" at http://memyselfandbabyi.wordpress.com. Lainie and her family live in New York City, where she sacrifices living space (but not style) to be in the center of it all in "the city that never sleeps." (Fortunately, her toddler is a sound sleeper who doesn't rise until after 9am, on most days.)

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23 Comments on "Should Pediatricians Be Able to “Fire” Parents?"

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Debbie
Guest
I think a doctor should have the right to refuse treatment but I feel that a lot of pediatricians are motived by the vaccination schedule and the business that it brings to their practice. I also think that informed consent is not being performed as is required by federal law. The ingredients alone in a vaccination should give cause for concern. An intelligent and well informed doctor should be aware of the parent’s concern. Just in my practice, I have seen the harmful affects of vaccinations. I did not vaccinate my daughter after much research and education on the topic.… Read more »
RG
Guest
I know people who were intimidated by their Doctors into taking unnecessary tests. Mothers with perfect blood sugar levels forced to take the glucose test and intimidated into going through insulin treatment. Unneeded weekly sonograms for a baby that continually passes them with flying colors (meanwhile the Doctor filling the mothers with fear that surely something could be wrong.) I don’t trust a Doctor who feels that he or she has to resort to bullying in order to convince me of his or her point of view. That in and of itself tells me enough about what kind of “knowledge”… Read more »
Jennifer
Guest
My newborn was dumped as a patient because I refused vaccines due to my metal allergies -specifically nickel, mercury, and cobalt. If my child inherited these, then the vaccines could have dangerous results on him. Rather than waiting for a test, I was told I could not come back to the clinic – ever! They would not even look into purchasing a thimerisol free brand of the same vaccines. When I called the office manager to complain of this, she said that deviating from the suggested vaccine schedule causes problems for their billing department and not to take it personal.… Read more »
Padre of Lakeland
Guest
For the “doctors are trained” crowd: 50% of doctors graduated in the bottom half of their class. How about yours? My son received no vaccines until he was almost five. Three of those years were as hosts in a remote campground where we had thousands of visitors a year. He got both measles and chicken pox (low energy for a couple of days, otherwise not effected), little if any colds or flu. We lived outdoors in tents next to a river. We were definitely healthy. [Vaccinations only occurred because of divorce, ex wanted to “prove” she was the better parent.… Read more »
Rebecca
Guest
If pediatricians could “fire” their patients, I feel that parents who choose not to vaccinate will soon have no pediatricians to take their children to. I choose not to vaccinate for many reasons and that should be my right just as it is my right to decline an anti-biotic or drug that is prescribed if I feel there is a safer and more effective alternative. I think pediatricians (and many people for that matter) believe that parents who do not vaccinate just leave their child with no protection. I can only speak for myself to say that is not the… Read more »
Sara Jane
Guest
I too am a parent of an unvaccinated child, who is vibrante, healthy & smart. She will be 4 years old in 2 days & never had an antibiotic, strep infection or ear infection. We of course eat organic foods, buy grass fed beef & organic chickens from a local farm, & we give her probiotics, & supplements, avoid excessive sugar, drink filtered water, avoid flameretartant bedding/clothing…wow sounds like a lot of work doesn’t it? Well, it is, but it is so worth it. What isn’t been said ever in all the comments is it IS hard work to raise… Read more »
John
Guest

Sorry…AAP = American Academy of Pediatrics.

John
Guest
We fired our pediatrician. What good are they anyway for healthy kids? I can buy the same height / weight chart they have and make sure my kid is on track for a few bucks. If you have a healthy baby (baby with a problem is a different story), the “well baby” visits are a marketing ploy to get you to vaccinate your kid. My pediatrician couldn’t discuss vaccines beyond “they are safe and good for your kid and the world”. These pediatricians would have little to NO income without vaccines (insurance doesn’t pay much to “examine” healthy kids)…most kids… Read more »
thing12mom
Guest
Here’s what the recent Institute of Medicine Vaccine Safety Review said about gaps in vaccine safety research. Institute of Medicine Acknowledges Vaccine Safety Science Gaps The Institute of Medicine issued an historic report this year that acknowledged there is not enough quality vaccine science in the medical literature to determine whether or not many of the vaccines routinely given to children and adults cause more than 100 different types of brain and immune system dysfunction. IOM found that, out of 158 serious brain and immune system disorders reportedly associated with eight different commonly used vaccines, there were either no studies… Read more »
Denise
Guest

ps..wanna know whats in your SAFE AND EFFECTIVE VACCINES..google..”common ingredients of the most common vaccines” and be a proud parent for shoving that into your childs flesh..REPEATEDLY..

Denise
Guest
Lauren you make some very awesome points eloquently and calmly..if these folks want to vaccinate../poison their child on a DRS sayso..then they can only be pissed at themselves and their omnipotent DR when they, well their child and then subsequently ,they the parent deals with the lifelong side effects..which may not surface for years..but one of the major side effects is INFERTILITY..so no grandbabies..and even if their child is able to procreate..then their grandbaby will inherit a compromised immune from the parent, and of course will get injected with toxic vaccines and it goes on and on.it’s the DARWINISM of… Read more »
Lauren
Guest
I am not infuriated that you vaccinate your child. Why should you be infuriated that I don’t vaccinate my child? If vaccinations are 100% effective and safe so is your child. Don’t assume your doctor reads all the latest research and studies. Don’t assume your doctor isn’t biased by pharmaceutical companies. Don’t assume I have made this decision lightly. A vaccination is not a one size fits all. You would not (I hope) take a prescription drug without weighing the pros and cons of that drug and knowing full well what the hundreds of side effects could be. The reason… Read more »
michelle
Guest

I would hope a pediatrician believes they are for more than vaccinations and wouldn’t “fire” a patient for making their own decisions for their own children but I know first hand this Is not the case. Finally found a family physician that believes in a parents rights. He commented that if he “fired” every adult patient that didn’t do exactly what he told them he would find himself with lots of free time –

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