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Takedown: Sue Your Doctor!

I get really upset when people don’t vaccinate their children. I get upset because there are people who can’t get vaccinated, and they are at a higher risk for horrible diseases because people make choices based on rumors and fearmongering. I get upset because my own child is at a higher risk of getting these diseases, even though she is fully vaccinated, because there are more viruses running through society. I get upset because it wasn’t terribly long ago that people were dying of polio and smallpox, and I’m afraid that our control over these things is tenuous.

But I think what really gets under my skin is that those who choose not to vaccinate are so sure of their decisions, so sure that they know more about biology and immunology and epidemiology than their own doctors, and yet – when it comes time to set a bone or get antibiotics for strep throat, of course you go to the doctor. The medical establishment, which is apparently so tied up with the pharmaceutical industry that they will do anything to make a buck, is great for knee surgery. The doctors who are apparently either stupid, brainwashed, or greedy, who have spent years and years and years learning their trade but aren’t to be trusted more than badly spelled Internet posts and conspiracy theories, are not too stupid, brainwashed, or greedy to do appendectomies or stitch up head wounds.

Which brings me to this week’s crapdate.

Vaccine refusal
Ugh.

RICO stands for “Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations.” Which is to say that your doctor is corrupt, your doctor is doling out vaccines because they want to get more money, and they are therefore to be judged under this act as a racketeer. A racketeer. Your doctor. And because that racketeer is “threatening” you by refusing to give you services because you won’t vaccinate your child, they are therefore discriminating against you and should go to jail.

The crapdate is saying that your doctor is analogous to a mob boss, and the entire health care industry is organized crime.

One of the weird things about getting older is that people I used to go to parties with are now doctors (oh wait! I’m a doctor, too! Just not that kind of doctor). This might be sample bias, and maybe can be explained away by the fact that everybody I used to go to parties with is awesome, but the doctors that I know are – to a one – kind, smart, and earnest about being a force for good. I’m sure there are corrupt doctors out there, but what this crapdate is saying is that the entire health care industry is organized crime. Any doctor that thinks that vaccines are a good idea may as well be Al Capone.

This makes me angry because it is so dismissive of a group of people that is, by definition, one of the smartest, most ethical and hardest working sectors of our society. It makes me angry because it is so ludicrous. But mostly, it makes me angry because it is so, so hypocritical.

If a mafia boss shows up at my house and says, “Buy my moonshine or else I will stop letting you come to my moonshine store,” you say, “Thank you very much, I don’t want it, and I appreciate that I don’t have to be around you anymore.” For a racketeer to “threaten” you with not allowing you to be racketeered anymore – that’s not a threat. That’s not discrimination. That’s relief.

Because you don’t get to have it both ways. Yes, you can be critical of your doctor’s advice, and of course you have the right to inform yourself and make whatever choices you want to make. But at the moment when you say “my doctor will do anything for a buck” is the moment you stop going to the doctor. For anything. If the entire industry is organized crime, what makes it good enough for any other treatments? Why would you go to the doctor when you have a lump in your breast, or you cut your finger off while you were making a salad, or you’ve been having dizzy spells? When your life is in danger, you don’t go, on purpose, to a racketeer. If your doctor pushes vaccines on you because it will make them rich, they will also misdiagnose anything and everything so that you will be forced to keep coming back, they will give you a heart transplant when all you need is a few stitches, they will prescribe you medicine that makes you sicker so as to ensure your repeat business.

I’m not saying that anybody who doesn’t vaccinate their children should then be forced to stay away from all doctors forever (I’d appreciate it if their kids stayed away from mine, though, and really, I hope their kids stay away from any social interaction anywhere). I also, much as I hate to admit it, don’t think it’s right for doctors to “fire” their patients that don’t vaccinate (I really hate to admit it. I wish I thought it were right. I don’t, though. People are allowed to choose their own treatment plans, and that shouldn’t mean that they shouldn’t be allowed access to medicine). I do, however, think that there is a huge difference between saying, “I am making a different decision based on what I believe” and “all doctors are corrupt.”

My doctor told me to start introducing solid foods to Sofia at 4 months, and I told her I’d rather wait until 6 months. I knew what her recommendation would be, and I was confident in my choice. It would be wrong for the practice to ban me from the premises until I followed their advice. It would be worse, though, for me to say that my doctor was brainwashed, stupid, corrupt, greedy, or selfish because we didn’t see eye to eye. If I were to say that, the doctor doesn’t need to ban me from the premises, because if I really thought that, there’s no way I’d trust that same person to make any decisions regarding my health. Either the doctor is a rackateer and the “threat” of being banned is no threat at all, or the doctor is somebody knowledgeable and ethical with whom you disagree.

So go ahead. Report your doctor as a racketeer. I’m sure the FTC would love to hear all about it. While you’re on the phone with them, though, think about what it means to be ethical, and what it says about you that you will trust your doctor when it is convenient for you, but not when it is useful for your politics. Even Al Capone had a better moral code than that.

By Susan

I am old and wise. Perhaps more old than wise, but once you're old, you don't give a shit about details anymore.

21 replies on “Takedown: Sue Your Doctor!”

I’m not saying that anybody who doesn’t vaccinate their children should then be forced to stay away from all doctors forever (I’d appreciate it if their kids stayed away from mine, though, and really, I hope their kids stay away from any social interaction anywhere). I also, much as I hate to admit it, don’t think it’s right for doctors to “fire” their patients that don’t vaccinate (I really hate to admit it. I wish I thought it were right. I don’t, though. People are allowed to choose their own treatment plans, and that shouldn’t mean that they shouldn’t be allowed access to medicine).

Yes, in an ideal world this would work, but at the same time, doctors also have a duty to keep their other patients from contracting diseases from people who refuse to vaccinate themselves.  Unfortunately, it is a public health issue, and if patients refuse to see the bigger picture and only think of themselves, the doctor really has no choice but to choose the rest of his patients over that one family.

This issue makes me so mad. If I ever run into Jenny McCarthy, I might just punch her in the face. My son is one of those people with a compromised immune system. He’s a diabetic and something as simple as the flu can put him in the hospital. The fact that someone thinks it’s okay to endanger the lives of everyone else because of some junk science just enrages me.

It’s one thing to have a doctor who pushes you to try Zoloft instead of Prozac because some drug rep just sent him a fruit basket but to report them for racketeering? That’s just adds a new level of crazy to it.

 

Yes! Why someone would take the word of a former Playboy bunny over that of, oh I dunno, scientists and doctors who have been doing this for years just baffles me. (Not that Playboy bunnies can’t be smart, just that it doesn’t really qualify you to be a medical expert.)

Yes! Thank you for saying this. I am the daughter of a type 1 diabetic and have consequently had every vaccine possible including flu shots and meningitis when there was an outbreak in my home city a few years ago. Currently, there is an outbreak of Rubella in the southern part of my province basically because of a community with a high concentration of anti-vaccers. It makes me so mad  (and worried) that if it does spread to the whole province, my Mom will be in danger , all because people chose to listen to Jenny McCarthy and “Doctor” Mercola instead of science.

I agree with you on the vaccination issue – it ticks me off that my child is in danger of becoming ill because people refuse to vaccinate.  I wish these people would look at the bigger issues.  I am usually very respectful of the personal choices people make  – but when you start endangering my child, it is difficult for me to respect your choice.

I  recently had a doctor that was younger than me, for the first time.   It was such a strange feeling – like I must be a grown up now if people younger than me are doctors!

I think I might have to agree with sequined. Patients do have every right to refuse treatments, but when refusing has the potential to impact other patients or an entire community (or more) I think it could be justifiable to refuse that person other services. I would support a doctor who refuses to pander to misinformation/witch hunting.

Other than that, yes, spot on, the whole article.

Tentatively I do think it’s appropriate for private pediatrician’s offices to refuse to allow unvaccinated kids (or kids whose parents refuse appropriate vaccination, as opposed to kids who can’t be vaccinated for whatever reason) to come to their offices. As long as they can receive treatment elsewhere (even like, the urgent care clinic), I don’t think it’s violating their rights; I think it’s arguably safest for everyone if those kids aren’t allowed to wait in the waiting room with other young kids. But I don’t know a ton a ton about it–that’s just my instinct.

I’m uneasy about it as well, but I can’t say a pediatrician who does refuse is wrong either – why should they put  their other patients at risk? It would be good though if they could be accommodated e.g.:  only saw unvaccinated children on one morning a week or by appointment when the practice knows no higher-risk patients will be around.

On one hand, I agree.  On the other – I’ve heard a similar argument about turning away HIV positive patients.  My old pediatrician would whisk unvaccinated kids out of the waiting room immediately and make them wait in a doctor’s room rather than in the waiting room, which I thought was a decent solution.

Yeah the slippery slope argument makes sense to me, but it seems like you COULD say like, “well, your family is going against sound, accepted health practices, and you need to find a doctor who agrees with your choices.” That way it’s not about whether the kid is vaccinated or not, but about whether the doctor and parents can even work together? But of course that leads to a slightly different slippery slope.

I also don’t really think there should be special hours for unvaccinated kids because I don’t want their parents to think it’s a reasonable idea that should be accommodated. Plus then they’d be hanging out with other people who agree with them and I don’t want them to get positive reinforcement.

But I guess I feel pretty strongly about this. I didn’t know that about myself until this article. Ha.

Really interesting article, Susan. Very, very thought provoking. A lot of issues to consider, too. The vaccination debate is a big one, and I don’t think it’s right for doctors to refuse to treat patients. I do think it’s reasonable for people to refuse treatment, though, if they’re making an informed decision.

I don’t think going to a doctor for treatment has to be about absolutes, either. Hence we have specialists – I trust my doctors on many a topic, but there are topics where I don’t feel they necessarily have the knowledge and experience necessary. Not every treatment has the same potential repercussions, and neither does every condition require the same knowledge or indeed, ethical background, to treat.

The doctors who are apparently either stupid, brainwashed, or greedy, who have spent years and years and years learning their trade but aren’t to be trusted more than badly spelled Internet posts and conspiracy theories, are not too stupid, brainwashed, or greedy to do appendectomies or stitch up head wounds.

This is going off on something of a tangent, but doctors are quite capable of being stupid and blinded by ignorance and stigma. This isn’t the same issue when faced with relatively simple medical needs, but when faced with more complex situations, those doctors can be almost dangerous.

I would agree – but I think that your argument doesn’t apply to this particular graphic.  Because it’s not just about the doctor being ignorant, it’s about the doctor being corrupt.  And at the point when you think that all doctors, and the entire system, is corrupt when it comes to vaccines… you don’t just stop being corrupt when it’s time to do other procedures.

If somebody doesn’t want to vaccinate their kids because they feel like it’s the right thing to do or they disagree with their doctor, I think it’s wrong, but I can then understand wanting to go to the doctor for other things.  But the minute you say that the doctor is just a puppet for the greedy pharmaceutical companies, that’s an entirely different story.

I might have to take exception about those people who are anti-vaccine making an “informed” decision. There is no proof. The original study was false and has since been retracted by the leading physician (as well as some serious legal repercussions taken against him as well). There is no link between vaccines and autism, vaccines and behavioral problems, etc. A friend who had a child recently had an issue with the potential for formaldehyde in one of the vaccines, so she asked if there was an alternative version, to which her doctor said, yes of course.

If a parent is worried about chemicals in their children, there are other vaccine options. If parents are worried about it physically changing their children mentally/behaviorally, there is no basis in fact to support that claim. If parents are worried about their children becoming horrifically ill and dying because of diseases that were major killers just a few decades ago, then they need to get their kids vaccinated or keep them quarantined themselves. I’m less worried about what the unvaccinated child passes on to others so much as what others can potentially pass on to the unvaccinated child.

Being in the UK, I’m very, very aware of the Andrew Wakefield scandal. I’m also very aware of the MMR being one of twelve vaccines children can be give before the age the five. I didn’t make reference to the MMR scandal – I made a point about parents making informed decisions, and that’s with regards to the entire vaccine schedule that’s available.

I would suspect most parents worry about their children developing diseases that could kill or harm them, some parents have to face the fact that their child either can’t be vaccinated or that a vaccination won’t necessarily work. Parents who choose not to vaccinate, aren’t the only ones faced with difficult possibilities.

I’m getting high readings… must be some anti-vaccine bullshit about….

Stuff like this is just one example of why the healthcare provider: person relationship shouldn’t be a business:customer one. There are interesting ways in which the US healthcare system is geared towards costs (why it spends more money but doesn’t get the same results) but they are, by and large, systemic problems, and each individual doctor generally thinks s/he is advising the correct course of action.

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