Should Pediatricians "Fire" Families Who Refuse Vaccinations?

Can you imagine being dumped by your pediatrician? More and more doctors are "firing" patients -- refusing to treat children whose parents refuse or delay vaccinations.

There's a medical reason: An unvaccinated 4-year-old with whooping cough in a doctor's waiting room could infect a young infant who hasn't yet been vaccinated. Some doctors say they don't want to put their other patients at unnecessary risk. While numerous studies have shown no increased risk of autism from vaccines, many parents remain concerned.

Of course, sometimes the break-up is mutual; parents who choose to skip or delay vaccinations will usually seek out pediatricians who support, or at least tolerate, their choice. A recent TODAY Moms survey found that 64 percent of parents have fired their pediatrician, for various reasons. But increasingly, when it comes to vaccine issues, doctors are doing the dumping.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

  • "In a study of Connecticut pediatricians published last year, some 30 percent 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 percent reported discharging families for the same reason."
  • "'There's more noise among pediatricians, more people willing to argue that it's okay to do this versus 10 years ago,' said Douglas Diekema, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington in Seattle. Dr. Diekema wrote the AAP's policy on working with vaccine refusers, which recommends providers address the issue at repeated visits, but respect parents' wishes unless it puts a child at risk of significant harm."

Do you think pediatricians should have the right to refuse to see a patient, if the child's parents refuse vaccinations?

Read more on TODAY Moms:

When is it time to fire your child's pediatrician? 

'Miracle baby,' turning 2, shows the power of kangaroo care 

What's the weirdest thing your child has licked?

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