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A pediatrician’s bill of rights

Posted Oct 14 2008 4:57am

Since the publication of Dr. Offit’s Autism’s False Prophets, there has been the first signs of a pediatric fight back to the unending anti-vaccinationism of Team McCarrey et al. I did my best to encourage that feeling with my posts on the recent Science Blogs Bookclub discussion of Autism’s False Prophets where I made it (hopefully) clear that it was perfectly OK to loudly disagree with the caricature of the poor, pity-me autism parent if what they were espousing was clearly and obviously in contrast with international public health. I also made it clear (again, hopefully) that doctors and scientists need to get public and loud with their message. If that means hiring PR firms – so be it. But other options are to blog, to comment on other blogs, to write books, to write op-ed pieces.

I think I detected amongst the comments of the posts that Dr Offit, Orac, Kristina and myself made the signs of a scientific community ready to start fighting back. I really hope so.

Someone else who needs a mention is Ben Godlacre. His book ‘ Bad Science ’ is my current read (thank you kindly benefactor :) ) and I intend to give it a decent review when I’m finished. But its bloody good. I’ve already learnt things that had eluded me about the importance of random selection in science – if you’re a parent and want to find out how bad science can affect many things (including our choices to vaccinate) then you need to read it. Its good to see Ben taking his challenge to bad science up a notch.

Today, I read a page that underlined to me more than anything else that paediatricians – particularly members of the AAP - are fed up of being maligned as tools of ‘big pharma’, are fed up of being attacked, are fed up of being painted as being part of some giant conspiracy. They’re fighting back.

Given the crisis that pediatricians face in vaccine management, Cohen has devised a Pediatrician’s Bill of Rights that defends specific freedoms he feels are being trampled. These rights include:
• The right to refuse a vaccine refuser, under certain conditions
• The right not to split, delay, or miss shots, or deviate from standard community pediatric practice
• The right to ignore vaccine agendas and dictums that go against core pediatric scientific beliefs
• The right to practice the pediatric profession without interference from interest groups
• The right to promote the science of public health (including routine childhood immunization) without fear of retribution from anti-science groups
• The right to change policies and practices on childhood immunization based on newly validated research at any time
• The right to refrain from offering durable goods and vaccines to patients when acquisitions and overhead costs exceed contractually agreed-upon payments, and when good-faith negotiations fail to provide injunctive relief.

Good for them. This isn’t only a fight about autism, its about public health and no matter how many self-appointed ‘editors’ like to think otherwise, when it comes to the science and medicine of public health, the effects of vaccines and their bearing on autism, they know jack shit compared to a doctor. Please – listen to doctors about medical matters. Not super-rich organisations led by people who can’t recall from one interview to the next if their child is recovered or not. There is no conspiracy. Doctors don’t hate you. They don’t want to hurt you.

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