Orange County, CA – In an alarming decision that could be used to set the standard for doctors who choose not to follow the state’s strict vaccine schedules for infants and toddlers, the Medical Board of California has suspended a pediatrician who claims that he approved a 2-year-old’s vaccine exemption, after the child showed a severe adverse reaction.
Dr. Robert Sears has been the subject of controversy ever since the board threatened to revoke his medical license altogether when he was accused of “wrongfully writing” a doctor’s note for a 2-year-old boy that exempted him from required vaccinations, after the boy’s mother told him that previous immunizations made the boy’s body limp, and caused him to lose urinary functions.
Because he took the mother’s word and believed her testimony of her son’s condition, Dr. Sears is now under probation for the next 35 months, which means that every decision he makes as a pediatric doctor will be strictly scrutinized by other medical professionals, he must notify all hospital and medical facilities where he practices that he is on probation, and he is not allowed to supervise physician assistants or nurse practitioners.
In a statement posted on Facebook, Dr. Sears responded to the decision and revealed that he accepted the probation as part of a settlement in an attempt to avoid going to court—which could have still resulted in probation if he won, or much more serious consequences from the board if he lost.
Sears said the ordeal began after he chose to write “a court opinion letter for a child who had an adverse reaction to vaccines” in 2015, and he believes that the backlash stemmed from a conflict with a California Legislator who has been “very vocal about openly working with the medical board to prosecute doctors who excuse patients from their vaccines, regardless of the merits of a case.”
While Sears admitted that he “signed up for this,” he also noted that he believes that the treatment he has been subjected to as a result of his decision to consent to the child being exempt from vaccines, should concern every American:
“A child and his mother came to me for help. The mom described how her baby had suffered a moderate to severe neurologic reaction to vaccines almost three years prior, and she was afraid a judge in her upcoming hearing was going to force her to resume vaccines now. Medical records of the reaction were not available yet, and I gave the patient a letter of opinion to show the judge that the reaction was severe enough to justify not doing any more vaccines. The board accusation against me states that such a judgment should not be made without medical records. But this patient needed a letter right away. Getting the patient’s medical records ended up taking over a year.”
Dr. Sears argued that he acted in what he believed was the best interest of his patient, given the urgency of the matter, writing, “Isn’t it my job to listen to my patients and believe what a parent says happened to her baby? Isn’t that what ALL doctors do with their patients? A patient’s word is often the only evidence we have—as doctors we must trust our patients, the same way our patients trust us to look out for their best interest.”
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Even after three years of threats from the medical board that his license may be revoked, Sears still argued that he would have accepted the mother’s testimony about her baby because the last thing he wanted was to approve a medical treatment that would do more harm to the child.
The state of California recently cracked down on mandatory vaccines by enacting Senate Bill 277, which outlaws the practice of allowing vaccine exemptions because parents cite religious views or personal beliefs. Now, all requested exemptions must be approved by the State Department of Public Health.
Dr. Sears said he believes the increasingly strict laws will mean that his career decisions continue to stay under intense scrutiny. In fact, he noted that the medical board is currently lining up four more cases against him, regarding vaccine exemptions, which he believes will be used as “an attempt to keep me on probation for the rest of my medical career.”
“Case number two involves siblings who got vaccine medical exemptions from me because one of the children has a severe medical condition that research has shown can get worse with ongoing vaccination,” Sears wrote. “The other child doesn’t have the condition, yet, but dad does. Exemption for reasons in a family’s medical history is an amendment guaranteed under SB277. We’ll see if the medical board agrees—probably about two years from now. These things take a long time.”
Other cases involved a child with a family member who had a severe permanent neurological injury after being vaccinated, and a teenager who had a severe reaction to an infant vaccine, was given an exemption from her own doctor, and was then given an exemption from Dr. Sears for a teen booster.
While Sears’ case has been widely publicized because the mainstream media has seen it as an opportunity to paint him as “anti-vaccine”—even though he is not—he is not the only doctor whose career has been targeted by the state, and as the Los Angeles Times reported, the Medical Board of California has revoked 57 licenses and put 197 doctors on probation in the last year.
If doctors cannot do their jobs because they fear the backlash they will face from the state, it puts them in jeopardy of being able to provide adequate care for their patients, and while such circumstances may be happening in California right now, the state’s increased scrutiny of its medical professionals could easily be used as a blueprint for the rest of the country to follow.
“It alarms me to see any medical board questioning exemptions that are given to families who have suffered severe vaccine reactions. It should alarm everybody. More doctors need to stand up for their patients, especially the ones who are the most vulnerable. I’m going to continue to stand for these children,” Dr. Sears wrote.