Can Doctors Fire Their Patients? - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

10/11/05

Can Doctors Fire Their Patients?

One month old Lizbeth Delgado isn't too happy about her first vaccination shot. But her mother, like most moms, knows it's important. "I think every children needs immunization," says Silvia Delgado, Lizbeth's mother. 

Other families aren't so sure. Doctors report that about seven of every 1000 parents resist immunization for their children. That's mainly from old fears that a mercury chemical in the shots called Thimerosal might cause Autism. It's a fear that immunization experts say has been disproven. "There is scientific evidence to support the safety or the lack of association of Thimerosal and Autism and I don't think that information has gotten out to the public,"says Dr. Julie Morita of the Chicago Health Department. 

Doctors worry that childhood diseases like Pertussis, Measles and Polio could make a comeback, If parents shun immunization. "Whooping cough, we still see that in Chicago and last year we had almost 130 cases that were reported to us," says Dr. Morita. And now Rush University Medical Center's doctor Erin Flanagan-Klygis is finding that many doctors are turning their back on parents who refuse immunizations. Her national survey finds nearly four in 10 pediatricians dismissing families that don't accept any vaccines. Nearly three in 10 dropped families who refused even one of the shots. In effect, they fired their patients, saying they couldn't help parents who didn't trust the doctors enough to follow their recommendations. Doctor Flanagan-Klygis says most doctors don't quit on their patients.  Partly because of what might happen to the children who are turned away.

Doctor Erin Flanagan-Klygis asks, "Where do the children go for their care? Do they end up becoming vaccinated or continue to be unimmunized and additionally to be out of high quality pediatric care services?"

In the study 85% of physicians had encountered parents that refused vaccines. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends doctors and parents to keep communication lines open in order to ensure child safety.

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