The topic of vaccination is always strife with controversy whether we’re talking about your kids, someone else’s kids, or even school policies. But a growing number of pediatricians are “firing” families for not complying with vaccination recommendations, discontinuing the relationship with parents who can’t accept “this core part of pediatrics.” And if anyone is going to put their foot down on this issue, I suppose it makes sense that it would be the pediatricians.
The Wall Street Journal reports that medical associations in no way encourage turning away patients, but the credo of keeping families in the best of care is incentivizing some to dissolve the patient/family relationship — and in increasing numbers:
In a study of Connecticut pediatricians published last year, some 30% of 133 doctors said they had asked a family to leave their practice for vaccine refusal, and a recent survey of 909 Midwestern pediatricians found that 21% reported discharging families for the same reason.
By comparison, in 2001 and 2006 about 6% of physicians said they “routinely” stopped working with families due to parents’ continued vaccine refusal and 16% “sometimes” dismissed them, according to surveys conducted then by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Douglas Diekema, a professor of pediatrics, penned the American Academy of Pediatrics’s policy on dealing with families who refuse vaccines. At present, the policy suggests broaching the issue over several visits with respect until the child is in significant harm. But therein lies the crux of the to vaccinate or not to vaccinate argument, as many pediatricians believe that not vaccinating your child is putting them directly in harm’s way. And given the increased panic over vaccinations possibly causing autism (which has been dismissed by many studies, WSJ reports), parents feel more able to counter doctors on their claims regarding the importance of vaccinations.
David Fenner and his colleagues in Rhinebeck, New York have pretty much a standard line of delivery to families who refuse inoculation, as he tells the publication:
“You’ve been bombarded with information before you came here, some accurate and some not.” If a family refuses to vaccinate after a discussion of the issue, he tells them “there are so many things we’re not going to see eye-to-eye on.”
While it’s concerning that medical associations do not encourage this trend in practices, the doctor’s predicament is clear given their ultimate priority as physicians. If you’re unable to reason with a family so dead set on bunk science after multiple attempts, the priorities of the families and the doctors no longer align. And pediatricians, frankly, no longer want to deal with those who can’t be reasoned with, nor do they want to witness the illness of a child that could have been so easily prevented.