As regular readers know, last Friday I was quite happy to relay the news that the Medical Board of California had finally acted against a rock star among the antivaccine movement, namely pediatrician “Dr. Bob” Sears. Dr. Sears (or Dr. Bob, as he likes to be called) rocketed to prominence among the vaccine-averse and downright antivaccine by writing a book called The Vaccine Book: Making the Right Decision for Your Child. It’s a book that Dr. Bob and his sycophants, toadies, and lackeys portray as being a “middle ground,” complete with an “alternative” vaccine schedule to the one recommended by the CDC that spaces out the vaccines, allegedly to lower risks (including the risk of autism). More recently, Dr. Bob has become one of the most outspoken opponents of SB 277, the recently implemented California law that eliminates nonmedical exemptions to school vaccine mandates, likening it to fascism and the Holocaust. More recently, Dr. Bob has decided to profit by selling dubious medical exemptions using an online form, which is part (but no means all) of the reason he now finds himself in trouble with the Medical Board. (For a more detailed description of Dr. Bob’s woes, check out my post and Tara Haelle’s news story.)
In reality, Dr. Bob’s “alternative” vaccine schedule is based on no science or on science misinterpreted and serves mainly to pander to the fears of the vaccine-averse and antivaccine, in reality making children less, not more safe. In the process, it repeats many antivaccine tropes, such as claims that doctors don’t understand vaccines, vaccine-preventable diseases aren’t so bad (misinformation that Dr. Bob recently doubled down on in the wake of the Disneyland measles outbreak in 2015), that regulatory agencies are corrupt, that “natural” immunity is better than vaccine-induced immunity, that vaccine safety testing is inadequate when vaccines are tested even more rigorously than most drugs, and that vaccines have eliminated disease but at the price of all sorts of chronic diseases, like diabetes, multiple sclerosis, eczema, and, yes, autism. In making such claims, Dr. Bob completely ignores the vast corpus of evidence that has failed to find a link between vaccines and these diseases. In the process, he ignores context, misunderstands risk, butchers science, and confuses correlation with causation. Even worse, in his book he basically tells parents who don’t want to vaccinate to “hide in the herd,” implicitly admitting the reality of herd immunity by telling them not to tell their neighbors about their fears of vaccines, lest those parents become afraid too and fail to vaccinate, leading to further degradation in herd immunity and increased risk of measles in the unvaccinated. Basically, Dr. Bob cynically urges vaccine-averse parents to mooch off the herd immunity maintained by those who do the responsible thing.
So Dr. Bob is in hot water with the Medical Board of California over his failure to do a proper neurologic examination on a toddler suffering headaches two weeks after reportedly being hit in the head with a hammer, for writing a letter supporting a medical exemption from vaccine mandates for that same child based on reasons that aren’t what any competent physician would call evidence-based, and for keeping crappy office records. Good. Predictably, however, even though the hard core antivaccine whackosphere views Dr. Bob as far too moderate in that he actually admits that vaccines can work (although he gains points for comparing SB 277 to the Holocaust), the usual suspects are circling the wagons, defending Dr. Bob, and lashing out at his critics in general and the Medical Board of California in particular. It looks very much like the tactics used by Stanislaw Burzynski’s followers.
That’s why it both did and didn’t surprise me to learn that Sears has engaged the services of Burzynski’s ex-lawyer, Richard Jaffe to defend him:
“I represent Dr. Bob Sears in the California Medical Board’s case against him for writing a medical exemption from vaccination.
We take the board’s accusation seriously. But this case is very clear: this child had two unusual and severe vaccine reactions and his situation warranted a medical exemption. To continue vaccination could have put the child at risk of further harm.
All physicians have an ethical duty to do no harm to a patient. This is no less true when a child suffers serious side effects from any medical intervention.
We anticipate this case will do much to further public education on the importance of recognizing severe vaccine reactions and providing informed consent for medical care. ”
Oh, goody. This will be at least entertaining. Jaffe, you’ll recall, is the guy who came up with Burzynski’s strategy for overcoming the FDA in the 1990s by having him apply for 72 clinical trials that allowed him to do whatever he wanted with antineoplastons. He also pioneered the cynical strategy of using patients as shields and weapons against authorities trying to bring Burzynski to heel. We can look forward, I’m sure, to the same tactics as were used for Burzynski, this time substituting autistic children for children dying of brain tumors. I’m not sure it’ll work.
What will work, I’m sure, is Dr. Sears’ fundraising. He (or Jaffe) has started a site, Stand With Sears, begging for money for his legal defense fund, the funds of which will be used thusly:
The time is now to help Dr. Sears! Please consider giving a monetary gift to help fund his legal defense. This fight will likely be time consuming and financially draining. Your support is greatly appreciated. Dr. Bob has never hesitated to stand with us for Health Freedom. It’s time for us to stand with him! #standwithsears
The best way to pledge your support is to send your gift payable by check to the address listed below. This is NOT a donation. It is a GIFT. Make your check payable to Dr. Bob Sears. Please make sure your return address is printed on the check or envelope so that acknowledgement of your gift can be mailed to you. All funds will be used for Dr. Sears’ legal defense. Any remaining funds will be applied to Health Freedom Issues to be determined at the sole discretion of Dr. Sears.
Now, I’m not an accountant or a lawyer, but this whole thing about how this is a “gift” and not a “donation” coupled with the emphasis on how a personal check sent to his personal address is the “best” way to help him raised red flags and got my skeptical antennae a’twitchin’. Maybe someone can fill me in here. I’m guessing that because Dr. Bob doesn’t have a charitable organization to give to and hasn’t set up a formal fund, he’s asking for direct gifts. The bit about how any remaining funds can be used however Dr. Bob wants to use them also caused a raised eyebrow. In any case, legal defense funds are usually set up for people who are not well off and for whom legal expenses of an action brought against them threaten their financial status to the point of the possibility of bankruptcy, such as when a blogger is sued for libel. I know Jaffe isn’t cheap, but Dr. Sears is loaded. He should be able to afford his own damned legal defense.
Be that as it may, it didn’t take long for that antivaccine quack defender of antivaccine quack defenders, Levi Quackenboss, the same woman who viciously went after a 12-year-old boy who posted a pro-vaccine video mocking the antivaccine movement and then retreated when things got to hot, to jump into the fray. First, she claims to “explain” the charges against Dr. Bob. Let’s just put it this way. It doesn’t take long for hilarity to ensue:
The board’s first allegation wraps up by saying that Dr. Sears screwed up by not getting a history of the vaccines the boy had in the past, as well as the reactions that occurred from those vaccines. We don’t know whether the mother brought in a shot card that wasn’t copied into the Sears file, and we don’t know if her previous doctor refused to document the vaccine reactions, as we all know happens all the time.
The second allegation says that Dr. Sears failed to conduct a neurological test on the boy two weeks after his father allegedly hit him with a hammer, in the incident that CPS closed . Does this mean Dr. Sears failed to see if the kids’ eyes tracked equally? How could they possibly know he didn’t do that?
The third allegation says that Dr. Sears failed to keep accurate medical records. Not just because there wasn’t a copy of the exemption letter on file, but because he didn’t document what exam he performed on the kid two weeks after being hit with a hammer.
So that’s all they’ve got? That’s the whole charge? A two-year old case of loose record keeping? Clearly this is trumped up bullshit about a kid I’m guessing Dr. Sears could see was on his way to being on the spectrum and he wanted to lessen the severity of that diagnosis.
The Medical Board doesn’t know what testimony the mom gave to Dr. Sears, and they don’t know if Dr. Sears looked up his shot records in the California Immunization Registry. The Medical Board doesn’t know if Dr. Sears thought the hammer incident was fabricated, even though CPS obviously did, not that their opinion means anything. And what’s going on with the parents now? Are they divorced and the dad is going after the mom to vaccinate the boy, as we’ve seen hundreds of times in our circle? We’re supposed to believe that a mother who brought her son in for 5 sick child visits in 13 months waited two weeks for medical care after what the board thinks was a serious head injury? If the kid has got neurological damage now, my money is on it being caused by the vaccines, not the hammer.
Quackenboss seems oblivious to a rule in the medical field that was drilled into my head from my very first days on the wards as a third year medical student through my residency and even through to my career now as an established surgeon who’s been practicing independently since 1999: If it isn’t in the medical records, it wasn’t done. If it isn’t documented, it didn’t happen. Medical-legally, if you don’t document something relevant to a bad outcome it can come back and bite you in the posterior in court if the patient decides to sue for malpractice. As I was informed time and time again, one of the most common reasons physicians lose malpractice cases is inadequate documentation.
Quackenboss also seems oblivious to basic responsibilities of a physician taking on a new patient. Confronted with a new patient whose mother claims she had a serious vaccine reaction, the description of which by Sears in his records was described in the Board’s complaint as “shut down stools and urine” for 24 hours with 2 month vaccines that the girl went limp “like a ragdoll” lasting 24 hours and not himself for up to a week after 3 month vaccines. What would a competent and responsible pediatrician do, faced with this story? Would he take it at face value? Certainly not, and not because a clinician shouldn’t trust the medical history as related by the parent. It’s because you can’t assume how well any parent understands what’s going on, and whether she’s correct attributing whatever happened to her child to vaccines. Just because she believed vaccines caused whatever happened to her child does not mean that they in fact did. The responsible thing to do when accepting a new patient like this is to get a hold of the patient’s records from the previous pediatrician and examine them himself, particularly before altering medical management. Heck, ignore the question of vaccine reactions. It's just good practice in general, when taking over as the primary care doctor of a patient, to get the patient's previous records if at all possible from the previous doctor. If a woman comes to me and says she has breast cancer, I don't disbelieve her but I can't even begin to treat her without her records, including the biopsy report, her mammogram and ultrasound reports, as well as a disc with all her mammograms, ultrasounds, and other imaging studies. Even then, we not infrequently request the tissue slides for our pathologist to look over in order to make sure that we concur with the diagnosis. It's just good medical care.
As for the head injury, Quackenboss, as usual, is full of it. In fact, her attempt to defend Sears by asking how the Board could know whether Sears did a proper neurological examination on the child when he saw her for her headache and learned the history is risible in the extreme. Basically, if it’s not in the chart, it is assumed that he didn’t do it, and no one would (or should) trust Dr. Sears’ memory of one patient among likely hundreds or thousands that he’s seen since then. That’s not a knock on Dr. Sears (although there is much to knock him for); it’s just the fallibility of human memory, that fallibility being the reason we need good record keeping in medicine in the first place.
The next part of Quackenboss’ defense is equally silly. (It is Quackenboss, of course.) She basically goes back to testimony during the debate in the legislature over SB 277 in which it was pointed out repeatedly that no one, including Dr. Arthur Pan, the California state senator who co-sponsored the bill, knew of any physician facing Board action over writing a letter supporting a medical exemption. Of course, the assumption was that these doctors were writing exemptions based on reasons that were at least close to being evidence-based. Dr. Sears, of course, was not, and he was sloppy about documenting the medical history and findings behind even his dubious reasons.
Finally, Quackenboss wrote one of the most hilarious things I’ve ever seen her write. It’s a post entitled Done playing nice. I laughed out loud when I read the title, given that Quackenboss has never played nice. But what does she mean this time? Something truly abusive:
Here’s the plan: if you’ve got a kid who became autistic, allergic, epileptic, or diabetic after childhood vaccines, you’ve got to file a complaint against that doctor. Gone are the days of being told it was a coincidence. No more will we quietly find a like-minded physician and transfer care. Today is the day to take the first step to standing up and saying, “What happened to my child was unacceptable, and it’s time they answer for it.”
So this is what Quackenboss wants antivaccine parents to do. First, she wants them to get their child’s medical records and go over them. Then:
Your child’s vaccine reaction is not documented? You don’t say! No mention of high pitched screaming? No concern about the blank stare? No neurological exam when the head circumference rocketed to the 90th percentile?
Did your doctor file a VAERS complaint like they are obligated to? Of course not.
All of this will go in your complaint to your own state’s medical board.
First of all, VAERS is not mandatory. It’s a voluntary reporting system. No one is “obligated” to report anything. Actually, that's not quite true. Doctors are required to report so called "Table Injuries" (injuries on the Vaccine Injury Table used by the Vaccine Court for which reimbursement is basically automatic). Here's a hint: Autism, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and eczema are not Table Injuries, because the scientific consensus is that vaccines do not cause these conditions and diseases. So a physician is not obligated to report them, and no state medical board will discipline a physician for not reporting to VAERS conditions that are not on the Vaccine Injury Table. Just because Quackenboss thinks that autism, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, eczema, and whatever other conditions antivaccine activists blame on vaccines are "vaccine injuries" does not mean that they are, and just because she thinks these conditions must be reported to VAERS doesn't mean that they must.
Also, anyone can report anything as a vaccine injury. (Remember the pro-vaccine parent who reported that a vaccine had turned him into the Incredible Hulk.) Parents don't need a physician to report a suspected vaccine injury. If their doctor disagrees that their child's illness or condition, whatever it is, is a result of vaccine injury, nothing's stopping them from reporting it themselves. Perhaps Quackenboss is confusing child abuse with reporting to VAERS. In most states, physicians and other medical personnel are mandatory reporters. If they see evidence of child abuse they are legally mandated to report it. The same is not true of vaccines, although most physicians who see what they suspect to be a real vaccine reaction will likely report it. There’s the rub. What Quackenboss and her fellow antivaccine wingnuts believe to be vaccine reactions, such as autism, allergies, epilepsy, and diabetes are not vaccine reactions. We know this because, you know, science. It’s just that Quackenboss and her ilk don’t accept the science, which is why she urges her fellow antivaccine activists to file bogus complaints against their children’s pediatricians thusly:
Detail how your child reacted to vaccines, how you dutifully brought your child in only to have your concerns swept under the rug. Maybe more vaccines were given. VAERS was not contacted. If you asked your doctor to file with VAERS and they refused, include it. MAKE SURE TO MENTION HOW POOR THE MEDICAL RECORDS ARE IN REFLECTING THE DETAILS OF YOUR CHILD’S HEALTH. Then, the kicker. Tell them this doctor caused your child’s autism. Tell them the doctor caused your child’s food allergies. Tell them the doctor caused the epilepsy, caused the diabetes. They recklessly administered vaccines without an examination for vaccine fitness, and they violated the standard of care by continuing to vaccinate, failing to perform proper examinations, and giving terrible medical advice. Did you get kicked out when you tried to save your child’s life by stopping the vaccines? Tell the board your story.
I didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry when I read this paragraph. Quackenboss has it exactly backwards (as usual). It is not the standard of care to assume vaccines cause diabetes, epilepsy, autism, or food allergies, because there are mountains of evidence that have failed to find a link between vaccines and any of these things. The most parsimonious explanation for this is that there is no such link. Just because Quackenboss believes there’s a link does not mean there is one, and it does not mean that a physician who does not attribute a child’s autism to vaccines is guilty of practicing so far below the standard of care that the Board will act. Yet, Quackenboss hopes to get 5,000 complaints submitted against various pediatricians throughout the country by Christmas. I’d be surprised if she got many more than 50 or 100.
Even that, however, would be bad. Even though the first reaction of most state medical boards to such obviously bogus complaints will be to laugh at them, the law still mandates that they investigate. I know. A Burzynski fan once wrote a complaint about me to the Michigan Board of Medicine over a blog post I did discussing her case based on what she had posted about it on public forums. I got a letter from the board saying there was no reason for action, of course. Unfortunately, though, even though there was no action against me, that Burzynski fan’s letter at least wasted someone’s time. The complaints Quackenboss is soliciting are so obviously from cranks and so clearly dubious that they are highly unlikely to result in the action of any state medical board against any pediatrician or primary care doctor. They will, however, waste the time of an unknown number of people working for state medical boards, who are obligated to do at least an initial investigation to determine if a complaint has merit, time that could be better spent investigating real cases of physician malfeasance.
Hilariously, Quackenboss’s fans have taken up the challenge. One of them has started a website called Neglect report, which redirects to a Facebook page run by Educate: Advocate, based on the contact address listed in one of the comments:
Unlike the case with patients supporting Stanislaw Burzynski, all of whom were either patients with deadly cancers or their family members, where activism and complaints could turn public opinion against the FDA and regulatory agencies trying to protect the public, I rather suspect that Quackenboss is actually doing far more harm than good to Dr. Sears’ defense. The doctors and employees of state medical boards are human, and, like all human beings, they don’t take kindly to threats or to people retaliating against them for their doing their job. Quackenboss, in her anger, ignorance, and arrogance, is proposing a strategy far more likely to backfire spectacularly than to help Dr. Bob.
Such are the delusions of antivaccinationists.
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So, what effect would her suggested action have, when complaints are lodged in Maine and Florida, in favor of a quack in California?
I mean, other than nothing, as California is both its own state *and* quite distant from either of the other states.
Of course, should she actually get 5000 complaints, there may well be a call for a federal law against such malicious and vexatious actions being prohibited.
That'd swiftly turn into a first amendment complaint, where she'd likely get that wrong as well...
Chortle. She only succeeds in exposing her ignorance.
How do they know he didn't do a neuro exam? Because if he had, it would be in the notes. It is still drilled into med students, doctors, nurses and ambos - if it isn't documented, it didn't happen.
It's an infuriating straw man that vaccines are above questioning. Of course they aren't, asking questions is the whole foundation of science. But you don't get to reject the answer because it doesn't fit your agenda, Quackenboss.
State Medical Boards tend to be very "doctor-friendly." I think we've all seen numerous cases where it is nearly impossible to get a bad doctor censured.....
So, complaints against doctors in good standing? Well, I think those will be good for a laugh.
This dim-witted and counterfactual anti-vax hooey is rapidly escalating here in South Africa, having started hot on the heels of the Duesberg-inspired insanity that was Thabo Mbeki’s HIV-AIDS denialism.
Yes, we already have a history.
What’s intensely curious about the whole anti-vax phenomenon is that it’s characterised by shrill hysteria emanating mostly from more affluent middle class households where many other forms of quackery are also prevalent. Experience shows that this clamour leaves no room for reason or evidence to enter the fray. Comparisons with cult behaviour, including opportunistic appeals for “gifts,” are not inappropriate.
If the CMB successfully pursues Dr Bob and imposes sanctions, it will no doubt be ascribed to malice; if unsuccessful, it will be taken as vindication of the anti-vax stance.
Now, if only we could muster an aptly-named fruitcake like Quackenboss…
So I AM an accountant, and not only that I work in the not for profit industry.
The terms gift and donations are pretty much interchangeable. You could say all donations are gifts, but not all gifts are donations. If there's a legal definition that makes a distinction, I've not heard it.
The rules for gifts are very complicated and givers to not-for-profits routinely attach all sort of strings to their gifts. However this does not make them "donations." You can give anyone money and attach strings to it--indeed, we usually call that doing business.
The major difference between a gift to an individual and a gift to a qualified charity is the tax consequences. Again, the rules are crazy complicated, but typically a gift to a charity reduces one's taxable income and the charity gets to keep the whole amount without paying any tax on it.
A gift to an individual though does not reduce the giver's tax burden. What's more, there is additional tax as the gift increases the the giftee's income, but the giver--not the recipient--pays a gift tax. There are generous exclusions so that I doubt anyone who clicks on that button will have to worry.
TL;DR--There are no tax benefits to the gulliable, and Dr. Sears can spend the money at Vegas or wherever else he pleases.
So, checks should be made out to Dr. Sears personally, and he has the discretion to use the money as he sees fit? Call in the IRS after April 15 and see if he has reported that income.
This is the first time I've heard of a physician asking for monetary gifts from his patients to cover costs of a medical board investigation of his practice.
Dr. Bob probably does not understand the points Christine Rose makes at #4 but I must admit my first thought was "new boat?" and my second was "new golf clubs?"
BTW who can report to VAERS? If a parent can much of Quackenboss' rand seems meaningless.
PS Did anyone notice "Quackenboss" sounds like an American character in an A Conan Doyle story?
Re "rant" not rand.
Anyone can report to VAERS.
There is a legal distinction between a "gift" and a "charitable donation", but "gift" and "donation" are terms that are used pretty interchangeably.
The big thing to remember is this: money given to support a single, specified individual is not a charitable donation. A charitable donation has to be for the public good. A charity could use money that they received to help out individuals, but they can't solicit funds for a specific person, nor can donor specify a particular person to be helped.
@Christine Rose, correct me if I'm wrong, but the gift tax only comes into play if the giver gives over something like $14K in one year. Also, if I'm not mistaken, any money that Sears receives would be considered taxable income, which they need to report.
September 15, 2016
This is the first time I’ve heard of a physician asking for monetary gifts from his patients to cover costs of a medical board investigation of his practice."
So a doctor, who receives gratuities from the pharmaceutical industry, is a pillar of virtue?
Suggests that he does not have insurance that should cover something like this, no?
My friend who shared Quackenboss's post on Facebook (in response to my comment linking to Tara Haelle's on her posting of the statement by Sears' lawyer) said Forbes wasn't a trustworthy source, but she trusts Quackenboss. It got me thinking about the level of bias and blinkers that kind of assumption involves. There are actually science-based bloggers/Facebookers I don't trust at all because of their occasional nastiness and hits below the belt. My friend must have been busy with other stuff when Quackenboss was attacking little Mexican prodigies or just painfully biased. I reckon, the latter.
At least, there's one thing I sort of share with Quackenboss - it's the idea that there's possibly a parental custody dispute behind all this, but the mother isn't the one that comes out smelling of roses.
Reading for comprehension also escapes you I see. Can you say, "strawman"? What no one giving you enough attention on other threads?
Please don't feed the troll.
Which have all since been conveniently deleted. Apparently even Quackenboss has a sense of shame, or at least sufficient awareness to know when she's looking really really bad beating up on a 12 year old, particularly given that that 12 year old made her look like a fool.
I second that.
Or a character created by Clive Barker.
But I think of Hugo Z. Hackenbush in "A Day at the Races".
I find interesting that none of the AskDrSears family (who are his actually we-share-genetic-material family) have publicly come out supporting "Dr. Bob". Not Jim (his brother who showed his anti-vaxxedness by appearing "Vaxxed"), not Bill (the "pater familiar" of the clan Sears), not Peter (the other doctor brother who practices in Tennessee) and not Martha, the nurse/mom of Bob. Not a single one of them has publicly said anything supportive of poor ol' Dr. Bob. Given that Jim and Bill are complicit in supporting Sears unvaccinated patients (they are in the same office space and cross cover), that says a lot about family loyalty...
Of course, anti-vax journalist Jennifer Margulis came out in support of Sears, if only to plug the new anti-vax book she co-authored with Paul Thomas, MD, FAAP, and "Dr. Paul"" also came out supporting Sears as well.
When I think back to all the shenanigans regarding the "donations" to fight SB277, I sure hope anyone gifting Sears money should just kiss it goodbye (and what does that tell you about the greed of Sears, who, having sold over 250,000 copies of his "Vaccine Book" (and that was a quote from the publish in 2012) can *easily* afford his own damn lawyer. Guess he's not pawning his Lamborghini, either.
On a brighter note, the AAP did accept a revised comments submission to their position paper "Countering Vaccine Hesitancy") from me. Sadly, my three least favorite FAAP pediatricians in the world (AVers Gordon, Sears and Thomas) were reduced to being FAAP pediatricians "A", "B" and "C" respectively. I guess the AAP has not yet formed enough osteoblasts around its notochord to accept the oh-so-monstrous risk of naming names. But, hey, it's a start: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2016/08/25/peds.201… .
@ Peter Harris #12: Yes, I am a pillar of virtue, having received a meager $10.25 in 2015 for one lunch paid for by Pfizer in June wherein I ate one 6 inch sub, one can of soda and one M & M chocolate chip cookie while hearing about changes in the flu vaccine for the upcoming flu season. ( https://openpaymentsdata.cms.gov/physician/1156554 )
In comparison, Dr. Robert Sears is clearly a bought doctor, having taken $13.05 from Cranial Technologies in June of 2015 for a meal from them. (https://openpaymentsdata.cms.gov/physician/1215105 ) .
By your rather inane criteria, Peter, I am fully qualified to criticize Sears.
I predict my next influenza shot will turn me into Wolverine.
Sunshine laws now prohibit medical professionals from accepting any kind of "gifts" - I wonder if this applies to these "gifts" to Doctor Bob?
Message received, Orac. I won't feed the troll any longer. Especially cowardly trolls.
I agree it's likely to backfire. And honestly, I see this coming to haunt someone who had a real case of vaccine injury mishandled.
Among the victims of anti vaccine tactics are also, though not only, those with real vaccine harms who must face a lot of skepticism because of antics of people like Quackenboss. Now, they'll have another forum that was pushed by baseless claims to maybe give their claims less weight.
Rina:At least, there’s one thing I sort of share with Quackenboss – it’s the idea that there’s possibly a parental custody dispute behind all this, but the mother isn’t the one that comes out smelling like roses.
From the details we have so far, I'm not sure either parent should be trusted.
Anyone notice that Quakenbush doesn't address the issue of mandatory reporting at all? Why is it that anti-vaxxers and religious fundamentalists have no problem with child abuse? Though at least I figured out why Dr. Bob didn't report it; he probably doesn't recognize abuse as a problem- the real problem was that the vaccines made the kid defiant and triggered the parent into abusing the child. (I feel sick writing that out. Not an idea I subscribe to- from my dim understanding of child development (I am not a parent or childcare provider) defiance is kinda the default mode of toddlers, and needs to be carefully rechanneled. Because otherwise, you end up with creepy robotic fundy kids.
Anyone can fill out a VAERS report. I've done it myself. It takes maybe 20 minutes. The only thing that's likely to be difficult for the average person is to get the batch number of the vaccine administered. It's not necessary to file the report, though.
It's not a good year to be a person or corporation named Sears.
Dr. Sears did make a report of possible abuse after the hammer incident, but as Orac pointed out, this makes his failure to do a neurological examination even more egregious.
Anti-vaxxers are so brainwashed to do anything their so-called "leaders" tell them that they are actually sending monetary gifts directly to the home of a rich doctor who lives in Dana Point, California, one of the wealthiest places to live in the entire country.
Of course, anti-vax journalist Jennifer Margulis came out in support of Sears, if only to plug the new anti-vax book she co-authored with Paul Thomas, MD, FAAP, and “Dr. Paul”” also came out supporting Sears as well.
I'm currently in a brawl with her anti vax followers on her Facebook page. When are we going to get a review of her book "The Vaccine Friendly Plan" from a pro science reviewer?
"The Medical Board doesn’t know what testimony the mom gave to Dr. Sears, and they don’t know if Dr. Sears looked up his shot records in the California Immunization Registry. The Medical Board doesn’t know if Dr. Sears thought the hammer incident was fabricated, even though CPS obviously did, not that their opinion means anything."
I totally agree with this statement by Quackenboss. Although, I would interpret this statement as being indicative of a MAJOR PROBLEM. As many commenters here have mentioned, if it's not in the records, it didn't happen. I am not in the medical field (a lowly ChemE in training, don't judge me) but I know that my doctor sees a lot of patients. I hope they are keeping detailed records for me because it seems unlikely that they would be able to recall my entire medical history from memory. Also, what if the child is transferred to a new doctor? Moves to a different state? Isn't it important to have these things documented so that the child can receive appropriate care upon transfer?
This is all just so absurd. It is a little bit comical, but mostly irritating.
"Why is it that anti-vaxxers and religious fundamentalists have no problem with child abuse?"
Easy: because they believe their children to be either their property, or extensions of themselves. In either case, theirs to do with as they see fit. This is why they fail to see the irony in pleading for the medical freedom to choose a treatment (or lack of treatment) that will be harmful to the child.
Regarding Sears soliciting donations for his defense against a malpractice case . . . one does wonder, given that he presumably has malpractice insurance, the whole point of which is to cover things like this, what he expects to spend that money on. It won't be needed for his defense. Is he *really* so cynical as to see even this as an opportunity to mooch? Or is he not carrying sufficient insurance?
There may exist medical and political consensus, but for real scientists, vaccines are still considered a plausible cause for autism.
Certainly yes. Competent physicians listen to their patients, and don't so readily accuse them of lying or being mistaken. Incompetence would be automatic dismissal of the testimony.
"When are we going to get a review of her book “The Vaccine Friendly Plan” from a pro science reviewer?"
There's one from a certain pro-vaccine pediatrician on Amazon.
I may add my own once I get access to a library copy, but there's a limit to how much time I'm willing to waste reading moronic antivax spewings in the guise of "vaccine friendliness".
Missylulu: Also, what if the child is transferred to a new doctor? Moves to a different state? Isn’t it important to have these things documented so that the child can receive appropriate care upon transfer?
Yeah, that worries me too, especially if the doctor didn't document something like, say, a penicillin allergy, and at he next doctor's office, the kid shows up with a bacterial infection, for which the new doctor, in all ignorance, prescribes penicillin. Seems like a court case waiting to happen.
@Rafaela Gonzalez- The term you are looking for is indulgent, not competent. A competent doctor will know when someone is mistaken, and will tell them that. To do otherwise would be negligence.
Also, which scientists still think vaccines can cause autism? I find it interesting you don't give any names or articles.
I see Dr. Hickie is a hunchman again. Please stand up straight already Dr. Hickie. The replies to him are hilarious.
To quote from your own link on the Professor thread
Scientific results like that study are why the US uses the Jeryl Lynn mumps strain, not the Urabe strain.
Febrile seizures are triggered by anything causing a fever in very young children including several of my nieces and nephews. But they are almost always outgrown and seldom cause significant harm. One of my nephews had some learning difficulties possibly as a result, but he graduated from college, competed in basketball, and is getting married next month. Are those also side-effects of vaccines?
I'd like to see thrombocytopenic purpura discussed by some more knowledgeable commenters. But there are different types, spontaneous recovery is common, and is also caused by viral and bacterial infections like the ones vaccinations protect against!
This may be interesting reading.
@ScienceMom: where am I playing the hunchman?
Ms. Gonzalez: "....but for real scientists, vaccines are still considered a plausible cause for autism."
Who are those "real" scientists? Are they the ones who can't figure out what mumps vaccine strain is used in the American MMR vaccine?
That study did not find a correlation between the MMR and Autism or demyelinating conditions, simply because the MMR does not have thimerosal.
@CH - in reference to the amazon book review
Please pardon me if this is a bit incoherent. I'm having a bit of trouble articulating my outrage.
Parents who believe Dr.* Sears about the dangers of vaccines are fine with protecting their Little Special Snowflakes from autism, MS, diabetes, etc. But these parents are also fine with their friends' & neighbors' kids and schoolmates getting these diseases**, as long as they provide community immunity to their LSS.
And Sears is fine with this, too.
**They might, but it won't be from vaccines.
EmJay: Yup! Moochers.
I think there is a technical economics term for this, maybe tragedy of the commons? No, it's the Free Rider problem.
Or we could give it a simpler name: hypocrites.
Todd W. @11
No, the recipient never pays any gift or income tax unless the giver has neglected to pay it in which case the IRS will seize it from the recipient. The giver does pay income on their earnings just as they normally would but there is no additional income tax.
You are correct in saying that the tax only applies to large gifts though. I don't think Sears is breaking any laws here. I've seen webcomic creators and the like receiving very large sums in aggregate from people who are willing to throw in a few dollars to support their favorite diversion. It's pretty insidious really but I don't think this can be described as fraud.
People, Rafaela Gonzalez is just another stinky Fendlesworth sock. Going to try and leave another poopie noise comment on my blog Travis? Too dumb to figure out you aren't getting through?
irenedelse:Dr. Sears did make a report of possible abuse after the hammer incident, but as Orac pointed out, this makes his failure to do a neurological examination even more egregious.
I missed that he filed a report, though I'm really surprised he didn't make a neurological exam- what if the kid had had a concussion? Or lasting brain damage? It's not like you can determine whether a toddler had a concussion from asking them, after all.
It's funny that all the anti-vax people will take to their fainting couches at the thought of autism, but brain injuries from illnesses or physical trauma just seem to be shrugged at. Parenting licenses seem to be a better idea every day, especially since a lot of parents only seem to have kids because 'that's what everyone does," or they want a new accessory and forgot that kids are humans, not pets.
I am a what? Is Fendlesworth a name brand or a type of wool, like Merino?
Science Mom is stinky cotton Adidas sock peeled off of a homeless corpse that was washed ashore after a tsunami.
With barnacles attached!
And I used to think he was a real stand up guy. Sad
Cthulhu 2016 - when you are tired of voting for the lesser of two evils
Here's another Fendlesworth/Travis IP 18.104.22.168
Oh, that's wonderful!
Oh, lookie-loo. That's dedication.
Not exactly. Kirchmeyer's complaint only excerpts Sears' records, and we don't know exactly what is or isn't written there.
Perhaps the most significant example:, the complaint reads, "a history of patient being 'hit on head with hammer' by Dad two weeks prior to the visit." So only "'hit on head with hammer'" is a direct quote from Dr. B.S. It doesn't tell us how Sears framed the rest of the reference regarding the Dad and the timing, or even if he mentioned Dad at all. That part of the account could have come from another source.
Nor does the complaint illuminate anything about Dr. Bob's interaction with CPS. I tried to find out what an “Emergency Response Notice of Referral Disposition” means, how it's processed, what has to occur before it's issued, etc., but couldn't find anything that would apply to this incident. It appears Tara Haelle ran into the same hurdle, as her piece links to a statue regarding only the reporting of the death of a child (I'd found that same reference, but it doesn't seem to be on point).
My guess, though, is that given the very short time that passed before the case was closed, CPS must not have thought there was anything serious to it. Further, I'd guess they wouldn't have closed the case w/o J.G. having been given a neuro exam if they thought that was necessary to rule out any potential the lad had suffered worrisome head trauma.
I'll also note that from what I could find out about Child Protection requirements in CA, at the point mandatory reporters form a "reasonable suspicion" of abuse, they're required to notify CPS immediately. So it seems it would have been inappropriate for Sears to schedule any additional examinations first – as soon as Mom and J. G. left his office, he was supposed to get on the phone to the County service. Perhaps that put the ball in their court, and he was just following their call...
Sears might have flubbed his responsibilities in responding to the hammer-hit report, and/or in documenting that response. Or not. We don't have enough information to say one way or the other.
Wow. She really does quack like a boss.
The address (32565-B Golden Lantern #346) is in an office building. In fact, "Suite B" appears to be a bunch of private mailboxes.
No wonder Pattimmy's trying to plump.
Unsurprisingly, when the complaint against Sears is being complained about, only half the story is being told, such as here:
"Have heard that Dr. Sears is facing disciplinary action from the California Medical Board for a vaccine exemption he wrote 2 years ago for a child that had a sever vaccine reaction? You can't make this stuff up."
Kind of like when AVers attempt to diminish vaccines by stating messages deaths were on the decline well before the vaccine, or autism diagnoses have increased along with the number of vaccines given in childhood. Both true, but not remotely the full extent of the story.
a child that had a sever vaccine reaction?
We left the camp after we had inoculated the children for polio, and this old man came running after us and he was crying ... We went back there and they had come and hacked off every inoculated arm. There they were in a pile ... a pile of little arms.
@ Herr Bimler #60
No wonder why one-armed man was after Dr. Richard Kimball; he had him confused with the vaccination doctor.
Hey, Dr. Sears has a website! In this article, he confabulates a lie that some pediatricians receive a bonus from insurance companies for each fully-vaccinated patient.
Wow. It looks like Dr. Sears was right after all. Pediatricians do get a $400 bonus from Blue Cross Blue Shield for every adequately-vaccinated child.
This is criminal. It's like they are getting paid to create Autism!
No, it's not very bright:
; <> DiG 9.4.3-P3 <> 22.214.171.124.126.96.36.199.104.xx-xxxx.xxxxxxxx.xxxxxxxxxx.org
;; global options: printcmd
;; Got answer:
;; ->>HEADER<<- opcode: QUERY, status: SERVFAIL, id: 24107
;; flags: qr rd ra; QUERY: 1, ANSWER: 0, AUTHORITY: 0, ADDITIONAL: 0
You know who you are.
#64: I don't know where he gets that stuff. 13 years of practice in Tucson and I never once was offered or given any sort of bonus based on how well vaccinated my patient population was.
Plus pediatricians are he lowest paid of all physicians so if we're raking it in so much from vaccines why are we the worst paid of all doctors? Now, on the other hand, Sears with his cash only practice taking no insurance, as well as $180 exemption visits and all the money he's made off of his books, well I'm sure he's one of the wealthiest pediatricians in America.
Lowest paid?! As you're not treating humans (see pediatrics vs adult care, for those seeking umbrage), you should get a hell of a lot more!
At the youngest end, you're equal to a veterinarian, treating uncommunicative patients with odd physiological issues, at the elder end, still odd physiological issues, with hormonal influenced communications.
Considering the sheer scope of varying issues that are age dependent, you should be paid a *lot* more!
I happen to know my PCP's salary. It's on par with the figures I'm seeing for pediatricians. In a low-income FQHC. (Nothing to sniff at, mind you, especially for patients at such clinics. On the off chance that I actually wind up with a group plan some day, I intend to stay there.)
^ Oh, and you were replying to a part of the Fendlesworth M.O.
I never once was offered or given any sort of bonus based on how well vaccinated my patient population was.
I think a bonus to reward pediatricians for protecting their patients from VPDs is entirely appropriate.
Might need to be in an IPA* or something, but the BCBSs do do incentive programs.
* No, I would've said into, so just don't.
A pediatrician's take on the doctors-bribed-to-vaccinate meme:
Mind you, Narad, Dangerous Bacon, Shay and Wizrd1, I would not be at all against getting paid more for higher vaccination rates, but that wasn't why I worked to keep rates high and the risk to my newborns and medically fragile patients was why I expelled vaccine-refusing families (and not to get some "bonus"). I did have some medicaid plans I contracted with whose patients would get a $40 Target gift card if their child was kept on schedule for vaccines up to age 2. I thought that was a good use of incentive dollars and am surprised that AVers don't go after that as much (you know "Big Insurance is paying to make your children sick from vaccines...." (ha ha)).
While I've chose the type of medicine that is the lowest paying, I feel obligated to note that the wages don't qualify for poverty-level classification (though that being said, I've seen pediatricians fresh out of residency being offered $100K (and probably more like $200K) loan debt from schooling. There are other career fields that would pay that or better with same or less schooling.
And thanks for the link, Dangerous Bacon. I've had insurance contracts I've turned down because the vaccine reimbursements were 10-30% under my purchase price. Sorry, but I can't buy the vaccine for $100/dose and sell it for $70. That's just stupid.
I'm just astonished that reimbursement for vaccines is below the cost of the vaccines. That's just insane!
Which reminds me, I'll have to schedule my flu shot on my next appointment...
Wizard -- no dentist in our county takes Medicaid because their reiumbursement costs don't even cover the cost of sterilizing their equipment.
And policy wonks sit around debating why poor folks have bad teeth.
Don't get me started on bad teeth. My wife and I both have serious GERD. End result, tooth root erosion.
To the point where, we're literally running out of teeth to chew our damned food!
And I'm paying out the rectum for dental care that we'll never receive, due to the extreme cost on top of the premiums paid for dental insurance.
If you were a client of mine, I could greatly reduce or eliminate the problem of GERD.
But, I doubt whether you would take my advice.
Your a product of your time, and your environment, in teams of your mindset, and your body.
Never mind, the pharmaceutical companies will come to your rescue, along with a myriad of side-effects of course.
@Peter, everything has side effects. Medication, tea, beer, all have side effects.
My GERD will likely require surgical intervention. It's quite likely that I already have Barret's esophagus, I'm estimating that as even money. I'll eventually get around to having doctor stuff the garden hose down there to take a look.
OK, not quite a garden hose.
And no, I'll not seek your bad advice.
Even money, you'd have me stop my amlodipine, metoprolol and methimazole.
Here's a hint, without those, my BP would be 200/100 and my stomach would bounce up and down like a scene from Alien.
The latter condition, due to aortic dilation.
Which reminds me, I need to check with doctor to see what the last abdominal ultrasound results were. Previous aortic dilation measurement was 2.2 cm.
Still, Pete, hold on a second while I reach into the cat box.
Here's a cookie for you.
#7 Dangerous Bacon, #13 Todd W., this is not the first time a physician has solicited (and received) monetary support for medical board investigation. Two come to mind:
Dr. Kalb in TN (anti vaccine doctor from Cool Springs Family Medicine) is currently collecting through gofundme. He is being investigated by the Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners.
Dr. Fischbein in Southern California collected for his legal costs. He is a homebirth ob/gyn who sexually exploited a patient, got probation, then penned a screenplay about his behavior, then tried to terminate his probation. In the end, the California Board of Medicine made him serve out his probation, at least. He is currently in practice.
Wzrd1 @77: That's awful! Is there a medical/dental or dental school near-ish to where you live? They often offer sliding-scale treatment (if you're patient/have a high pain tolerance). The school near me offered regular treatment and something called the "Dental Fears Clinic". I never quite had the nerve to ask what they did in there.
Amusingly, I do have dental insurance. Alas, specialists for my wife's care and my own copays are killing me enough that dental care is a back burner thing.
Life was easier back when we lived near Philly, we had Temple dental school and UofP dental school. Now, we're near Shreveport, we'll have to figure something out.
But, as I said, it's back burner, taking care of her advanced osteoporosis, cervical spinal stenosis and herniated L5-S1 are priority. I'm pretty sure that I blew out L4-L5 recently, after my wife had her gallbladder out and a umbilical hernia repaired (old c-section scar started to unzip itself), it being day surgery, she took a fall and I caught her and bilateral spasms began in both calves. As that disc has been bulging for the past 30 years, it's even money that it failed.
Add in her bilary cirrhosis for good measure.
There's a medical term for us. "Train wreck".
I imagine that I should be depressed, alas, I lack the time to do so.
Mid-50's here, I'm wondering what our 60's will bring!
Hey, one can cry, it doesn't do much good, might as well laugh.
Which is pretty much what I do every time I pass a mirror.
Wzrd1, we have "solved" that issue by carrying no dental or vision insurance (thanks to the ACA the kids are now covered for both with their medical) because we were unable to locate any plans we could buy on our own that were at all cost effective. Our dentist's office actually gives us an out-of-pocket discount -- they knocked $100 off my last filling. Might be worth investigating?
So it's claimed that the infant " “shut down stools and urine” for 24 hours with 2 month vaccines" - is this actually documented, as in, did mother take child in to the doctor? Because I'd be in like a shot had one of ours ceased to produce urine or faeces at age 2 months.
Or is it a just-so story?
@alison, considering those conditions, two words come to mind.
What would have happened if either of our kids suffered those symptoms. A massive sonic boom as we swooped into the hospital.
Still, renal shutdown isn't trivial, that the child magically recovered from that with home care tells us one thing.
The entire story is bovine defecation.
To the point where, should he be allowed to retain his medical license, I honestly couldn't trust any medical professional from the state of California. Not even to park my car, let alone treat an illness.
Faith and credit can only carry one so far.
One finger or two?
Orac, can we please dispense the disgusting troll yet again?
A parent of a child with leukemia has publicly announced the filing of his board complaint (different from the one we've been discussing) against Sears: http://www.scpr.org/news/2016/09/16/64731/controversial-slow-vaccinatio…
We may have an explanation for those mysterious signs and symptoms reportedly suffered by Bob Sears' patient after being vaccinated. As noted in Orac's article:
"...a new patient whose mother claims she had a serious vaccine reaction, the description of which by Sears in his records was described in the Board’s complaint as “shut down stools and urine” for 24 hours with 2 month vaccines that the girl went limp “like a ragdoll”"
Based on a warning issued today by the FDA, that reaction sounds a lot like one said to be caused by...homeopathic teething pills!
"Consumers should seek medical care immediately if their child experiences seizures, difficulty breathing, lethargy, excessive sleepiness, muscle weakness, skin flushing, constipation, difficulty urinating, or agitation after using homeopathic teething tablets or gels."
Wow, that there homeopathy is strong stuff. Or someone's been mixing mercury, aluminum, bovine serum and aborted baby parts into homeopathic products.
DB @91, I saw that earlier today in a recall mailing list that I subscribe to.
That's another problem with homeopathic crap, one never knows what is actually in it.
In this case, major pharmacy chains sold this product.
Wizard — no dentist in our county takes Medicaid because their reiumbursement costs don’t even cover the cost of sterilizing their equipment.
And policy wonks sit around debating why poor folks have bad teeth.
I was lucky to find a place that does; I see my PCP there, too. Nice enough place; started out as a clinic for migrant workers, more or less. It was called "La Clinica" until a few years ago.
They also offer sliding scale dental and medical care for people without insurance at all, which was their M.O. before the Medicaid expansion.