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Dismissing young patients if parents refuse to vaccinate them

Parents take note: pediatricians may legally deny care to your children if you refuse to vaccinate them. As the anti-vaccination movement increases, some doctors are beginning to push back and, in some cases, are turning away or discharging patients whose parents won't immunize them.

In general, most physicians try to work with parents and are reluctant to resort to such extreme measures. But at this week's annual meeting of the American Academy of Pediatrics University of Louisville pediatrician Gary Marshall, MD, told attendees they have a choice in treating unvaccinated patients:

In the middle of treatment, you can't just say, I'm done. But if it becomes obvious that you and the family will never see eye-to-eye on a specific issue, there's no reason not to 'fire' them, providing you follow the steps necessary to avoid charges of abandonment.

To legally refuse care physicians must provide written notice that they will no longer treat a patient and give a set time frame, at least 30 days, for the patient to find another doctor.

In an ABC News story about the dilemma doctors face in treating children whose parents refuse to vaccinate them, Steven Abelowitz, MD, explains how the process of dealing with patients opposed to vaccines is evolving:

Four or five years ago, it really was a rare instance that someone wouldn't want to do vaccines. Now we deal with vaccine concerns 10-20 times a day. The big, big change came after [actress] Jenny McCarthy came on TV.

Abelowtiz adds that unvaccinated patients pose a serious risk to other kids, especially young babies, who could become infected with whooping cough, pertussis or other diseases that can be fatal in children.

While some parents who once worried about vaccines being a cause of their children's autism have moved on, a vocal core group is fueling the anti-vaccine movement and trying to change the strategic plan for autism research.

Via KevinMD

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