Medical extortion

Pediatricians are increasingly behaving in an openly unethical manner:

With California gripped by a measles outbreak, Dr. Charles Goodman posted a clear notice in his waiting room and on Facebook: His practice will no longer see children whose parents won’t get them vaccinated.

“Parents who choose not to give measles shots, they’re not just putting their kids at risk, but they’re also putting other kids at risk – especially kids in my waiting room,” the Los Angeles pediatrician said.

It’s a sentiment echoed by a small number of doctors who in recent years have “fired” patients who continue to believe debunked research linking vaccines to autism. They hope the strategy will lead parents to change their minds; if that fails, they hope it will at least reduce the risk to other children in the office.

The tough-love approach – which comes amid the nation’s second-biggest measles outbreak in at least 15 years, with at least 98 cases reported since last month – raises questions about doctors’ ethical responsibilities.

Any doctor who attempts to force a treatment on a patient against the will of the patient or an underage patient’s parents should lose his medical license. It is absolutely unethical for a medical professional to behave in this outrageous manner, and those who stupidly think that this would be a great idea should stop and think about the obvious consequences for a few seconds.

Measles is not a major health risk to anyone; statistically speaking it is considerably lower down the risk chain than obesity, smoking, homosexuality and even gun ownership. If the “tough love” approach is deemed to be permissible, then doctors will be able to use any of those factors to cull patients from their list, and given the way in which Medicare now influences how they are compensated, there are entire patient classes that they would love to be able to stop serving. The sword always cuts both ways.

The very minor risk to other children in the office is easily managed; a doctor can have “unvaccinated” days in which those children who are not vaccinated according to the presently recommended schedule are seen. (Which in reality is almost everyone; I know very few parents who have managed to stick to the complete schedule, not even the strongly pro-vaccination ones.) Furthermore, some children cannot be vaccinated because they, or their siblings, have had sufficiently negative reactions to their first vaccinations. Are they going to be barred from all medical treatment simply because one specific treatment is harmful to them?

Before you leap to any conclusions or assume that this is personal, let me remind you that you have absolutely no idea what vaccinations my children have or do not have. My argument against this unethical and dangerous policy has absolutely nothing to do with my preference for limited and delayed vaccine schedules; even the most rabid pro-vaccine supporter should be capable of seeing the inherent danger in it.