January 14, 2016
The art of medicine. It’s the cornerstone of medical practice. If medicine were all science, and only science, then we wouldn’t need human beings as doctors. We could just use computers. Or robots. They’d probably do better if medicine were simply the act of decision-making based purely on facts. How much easier would medicine be if we could just type every symptom we have into a computer and have it spit out a diagnosis? And a treatment. Maybe throw in an automated scan or two, a pinprick for blood analysis. Maybe keep a human computer tech on standby in case one of the machines decides to go haywire.
But doctoring also takes judgment. It demands a personal touch. It involves intuition. A human being must take into account every single factor involved in every patient and make a decision on what to do each and every time that patient walks into the office. And it’s OK for doctors to disagree with one another; opinions can differ. That’s why many patients will seek a “second opinion” for complicated medical situations – because there rarely is just one absolutely correct answer.
There are actually some doctors and legislators who would have us take the human touch out of medicine; eliminate opinion and judgment from medical practice. Every patient should be treated exactly the same way, there’s only one best answer for a medical situation, and a doctor’s professional opinion doesn’t matter. The first step in this attack on the art and science of medicine is to threaten all doctors with losing their license if they don’t insist that their patients receive all vaccinations on today’s schedule.
Wait, what? Some doctors allow some patients to decline vaccinations? Of course they do, and for a variety of valid, scientific reasons. It’s called a medical exemption to vaccination. If a child had a previous moderate to severe reaction to vaccines, he or she has the right to decline further doses. If one child or parent in a family has had a severe reaction, subsequent children are also at risk. The law in California actually directs physicians to consider family history when discussing vaccine decisions with families.
Now, some legislators are calling for us to go after these doctors for exercising their judgment and take their medical licenses away. This infringement of government is one of the worst slippery slopes that could end in complete takeover of medical decision-making and a terrifying loss of medical freedom for physicians. Not only is the government demanding that it knows what medical decisions are best for your children regarding vaccinations, now it’s demanding that it knows better than your trusted doctor, and if your doctor makes a professional decision that varies from governmental guidelines, watch out. The new California law came after parents; are we going to let them come after doctors next over a matter of personal practice and opinion?
But they are clever. They are disguising their takeover as a demand that all doctors follow the “standard of care” when it comes to vaccinations. This standard would call for 70 doses of vaccines to be given to every single child without question… Or, with only questions that the government deems valid. A one-size-fits-all approach. Forget that many of these diseases which we vaccinate against are long gone. Forget that some infant vaccines are for sexually-transmitted infections. Forget that some vaccines are for mostly harmless diseases.
You want to talk about Standard of Care? Informed consent for all complex, invasive medical procedures is the standard of care, just as it is for vaccination. A personal physician guiding each and every patient through the pros and cons of every medical decision is the standard of care. Mandating a complex treatment, punishing a doctor for failure to convince a patient to accept that treatment, or taking a doctor’s license away for exercising their professional judgement on that treatment, is so far outside the standard of care that perhaps legislators should lose THEIR license to legislate for even suggesting such a thing.
Most doctors support the concept and practice of vaccination. But few would agree that the government should force any complex medical treatment on everyone. And to threaten doctors with losing their license because they broaden their scope of practice beyond a narrow “norm” dictated by a select few and have a different opinion about what their own personal patient should receive is concerning . . . gravely concerning.