Pediatricians Should Be Allowed to "Fire" Patients

Rant 80

doctor handVaccinations are a tricky issue for many new parents. Despite all of the scientific evidence out there, there still seems to be some anecdotal evidence -- friend-of-a-friend kinds of stories -- that leave many parents panicked about allowing their babies and toddlers to be vaccinated.

But it seems that those parents who are refusing to allow their child to be vaccinated against potentially life-threatening diseases are now getting some push-back from their pediatricians. In fact, according to studies published last year, more and more doctors are starting to "fire" patients for refusing vaccinations. Obviously this raises some ethical issues: Should a doctor be allowed to say "see ya" to a patient who doesn't agree with him or her? In my opinion, hell yeah! But, hear me out ...

It's a doctor's job to protect your child against illness, not just to heal your baby after he gets sick. If you're not willing to heed his advice or recommendations, especially when that decision could not only harm your child but, potentially, put any other baby or child he comes into contact with at risk, then how can the doctor do his or her job?

But, you're the parent and you're the one who really has your child's best interests in mind. Whether or not you choose to get your child vaccinated is really your decision and, ultimately, yours alone. You have to do what feels right for you. Hey, I'll be honest, vaccinations make me uncomfortable, they do. I know better, and yet, I worry about those shots overwhelming their tiny immune systems. So, we stagger vaccinations and my little guys only get one shot a month.

I respect my pediatrician though and I trust him. It could be because he was my childhood pediatrician, so we have a history. But mostly, it's because he's a little "old school" and a little "new school." He's totally fine with the fact that I formula-feed now, but encouraged me to breastfeed for as long as I could, ideally at least three months (and I did until my already-meager milk supply started to diminish). He thinks dirt and germs boost a babies' immune system, but he recommends organic, all-natural products to soothe teething and gas pain. He advised us not to introduce solids until our babies were at least 6 months, and then encouraged us to only buy organic baby food and to start with veggies first. He believes in sleep training, but not until your baby is a certain age or weight.

Point being, Doc and I are on the same page! We're in agreement on the best way to care for my babies, and when I disagree, he's willing to listen and talk to me about my concerns. It's a healthy, trusting, working relationship. If you don't have that with your doctor, then I say, dump the guy (or girl) before he dumps you! You shouldn't have to sit there arguing with the person you rely on for your child's health and well-being -- parenting is hard enough as it is without having to defend your choices to your doctor. Just find a pediatrician you do click with. End of story. There are plenty of fish in the sea. The best ones aren't taken. You deserve to be with The One. Okay, enough relationship metaphors.

So, yes, I understand and agree with pediatricians "firing" patients who won't heed their advice because it frees up parents to go find a doctor that they do click with. I will say that I think new parents could avoid all of that drama though if they interview pediatricians when they're still pregnant, and ask those doctors how they feel about breastfeeding vs. formula-feeding, vaccinations, and other issues. I met with a few doctors before having my babies -- a couple that I really liked, one that I hated -- and ultimately decided that my own pediatrician was the guy whose philosophies best matched mine. That way, I knew ahead of time where my doctor stood on important health issues, so that we can work together to take the best possible care of my babies.

Have you had to break up with your pediatrician? Have you been "dumped" by one?

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Kritika Kritika

I absolutely think they should be able to. Why should a doctor handling unvaccinated children all day have to fear going home and holding his newborn child or hugging an elderly parent or hell even seeing another child with a weak immune system? Keep all the unvaccinated kids at unvaccinated offices and place biohazard sizes 200 ft from the door.

The fact that people can deny the irradication of so many deadly diseases because of vaccinations floors me. Those sicknesses and plagues did not just magically disappear from Earth.

Kritika Kritika


corri... corrinacs

I agree with this, because having a doctor that you don't mesh with doesn't help anyone, especialyl when your child is in the middle of the "drama-field". Many parents need to do more homework.

jagam... jagamama0710

I don't agree with you that pedi's should be allowed to "fire" patients but I do agree parents need to find one they mesh well with. My son's previous pedi laughed at me when I told her I wanted to stagger shots and then informed me I needed to be retracting his foreskin since he's not circumcised. I laughed right back at her and told her we wouldn't be seeing her anymore. We do shots like you though, staggered and one shot at a time. We skip some. He didn't get Hep B at birth (he'll get that when he's older) and we don't do flu shots. I'm still on the fence about chicken pox. While I won't take him to any pox parties, I would prefer him to catch it naturally as a child. We do the rest of the vaccinations though. 

Keep all the unvaccinated kids at unvaccinated offices and place biohazard sizes 200 ft from the door.

You f'ing kidding me? Do they need their own drinking fountains and own schools as well? Should we add double the restrooms in places, lest these unvax'ed kids leave their horrible diseases on the toilet seat? Vaccinated vs Unvaccinated. The new segregation. What's the limit? Do they have to have ALL their shots or just certain ones? My child didn't get Hep B at birth. Your child isn't endangered because of that. 

DebaLa DebaLa

Dr.s should be allowed to terminate ANY business relationship they have, including the physician/patient one. They have a practice to run, and a whole office of other patients — facilities that they share with other Dr.s — that are put at health risks because of the selfish (albeit well-intentioned) few that don't follow their Drs' advice. Find one that supports your choices!

Rhond... RhondaVeggie

I agree. If a parent refuses to care for their child then the dr will not be able to do their job. The principle applies to so many relationships in life. Say you're a house cleaner and one of your clients consistently leaves the house so messy that you can't vacuum or clean the kitchen. Would you dump them? If you're a lawyer and your client ignores your advice and keeps doing things that make them look guilty would you dump them? Why shouldn't a doctor dump a patient who refuses to follow treatments or make any effort to be well?

Of course there is an ethical dilemma. Should you dump a patient knowing that you are the only one that cares about their health? Are you endangering that child by refusing to treat them because their parents are neglecting to give them proper care? As a parent I would prefer a dr who did that because it is better for the other kid's in the practice, I don't want an infant dying because they sat next to a kid with whooping cough in the waiting room, but I don't know if I could do it as the dr.

Kritika Kritika

jagamamma, in short, yes.

Melis... Melissa042807

Well, it makes sense to me that the relationship should go both ways. It must be really frustrating to be a pediatrician dealing with parents of patients who don't listen to you. Not neglectful parents, but parents who have a chip on their shoulder against the medical profession because of all the hype about vaccines recently. Because there really is a lot of inaccurate information floating around out there that people take as truth without checking it out thoroughly, and they believe it over believing their pediatrician. If I were a pediatrician, it would make me hate going to work. And who wants to be in that position? 

That's one of the reasons I really like our pediatrician - she took the time to check out all the vaccine stuff herself and can thoroughly defend her position. 

hotic... hoticedcoffee

Yes, docs can and should be able to terminate a doc/patient relationship.  It's better for both parties to part ways if they're not on the same page about outcomes and the best way to reach them.  I spent my pre-mommy career working for doctors - pedis, ob-gyn, GPs, internals, ENT, eyes - and the problem of 'no meeting of the minds' occurs across the specialties.  Why anyone would want to receive care from someone they don't agree with doesn't make much sense to me - we have freedom of choice in health care (mostly, and for the time being, anyway) - if you don't like the product, take your business elsewhere.

nonmember avatar Cynthia

What about all the people who CAN'T get a new doctor because there are no others to go to or no others that are accepting new patients? Vaccination issues aside, I live where it's VERY DIFFICULT to get a doctor, let alone interview several and pick one you like and mesh well with! Should our doctor be able to "fire us" over a difference of opinions and leave us without a doctor and relying on an emergency room as our doctor? Um, NO! We need to be fixing the medical system and stop treating doctors like gods. They are human and have opinions which are influenced by their training and personal feelings, but like all aspects of life, things are constantly changing and all people are different. What's good for one may not be what's good for another and doctors need to stop and listen to their patients and their patients' reasoning before deciding that they're "wrong" and firing them!

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