A number of stories published in the midst of the Disneyland measles outbreak last winter looked at the trend of doctors, particularly pediatricians, “firing” families that refused vaccines for their children. The practice remains controversial among pediatricians but relevant enough that a recent session at the American Academy of Pediatrics Annual Conference addressed how pediatricians can legally protect themselves when parents refuse vaccines and the most appropriate way to dismiss a family from the practice, even though the AAP discourages such dismissals.
Now a new study in Pediatrics today takes a closer look at the pediatricians who are more likely to sever the doctor-patient relationship as a result of parental vaccine refusal. In a survey of 534 pediatricians and family physicians (a 66% response rate), a large majority (83%) said they have at least one family refuse at least one vaccine in a typical month, and more than half (63%) said 1% to 4% of parents refused vaccines. More disturbing, one in five said at least 5% of parents refused vaccines.