We’ve touched on this subject before and have warned that doctors in California who are capitalizing on the “anti-vaxx” movement by selling their signatures on exemption forms for children could be in trouble. That warning has now come to fruition in Senate Bill (SB) 276.
The proposed legislation would put any doctor who writes five medical exemptions or more per year under a microscope. If a doctor is found to have provided a phony medical exemption, that doctor would be charged with perjury. In turn, that would put the doctor’s license and practice at risk.
California is the first state to take this kind of action against doctors — although it may not be the last. Numerous other states are beginning to follow California’s lead by eliminating the ability of parents to exempt their children from vaccination schedules on the basis of religious, philosophical or personal beliefs. California ended such exemptions in 2015 after a major measles outbreak.
Since then, more parents have embraced the anti-vaccination movement, which attributes everything from autism to death to alleged contaminants in the vaccines. Some parents even believe that vaccines are the real cause of the diseases they’re designed to prevent or they refuse to believe that childhood diseases like measles or chickenpox are dangerous.
These beliefs, which originated in a now-discredited medical study that used faux evidence, have largely taken on a life of their own — mostly thanks to the movement’s online propaganda. This has lead determined anti-vaxxers to “doctor shop” in states like California.
Some doctors are happy to help. One doctor, who charged $180 for a visit that would include a signed medical exemption, was responsible for one-third of all the exemptions filed in California.
This is unacceptable to the state and the Medical Board of California. In essence, the board sees the doctors as being willing to sell accommodation to parents at the expense of the safety of their actual patients — the children involved.
It’s never wise to give the board reason to question your loyalty to your patients or your ethics. If you find yourself in that predicament, seek experienced legal assistance.