March 27, 2010

Vaccinations, do we really have a choice, and at what cost?

A recent experience in taking my unvaccinated son to the doctor because of a possible ear infection has made me question how much of a choice do we really have when it comes to vaccinating our children?

Our family had been fighting off a cold for about a week when we decided to make a doctors appointment to make sure Kai didn't have an ear infection as we were going to be flying to BC in 6 days. Our family doctor used words like "irresponsible" and my child was referred to as "this patient" to accompany his disrespectful tone, body language, and bedside manner, after we explained to him that Kai had not yet had his first set of vaccinations. We were then told that he was "not comfortable" treating our 4 month old son and were then sent to the emergency room at our local hospital. At the hospital my baby boy had to endure an x-ray of his lungs, a blood draw, and two failed urinary catheters. The ER doctor explained that due to the fact that they could not find where the infection was coming from they could not rule out meningitis caused by meningococcal bacteria. Also due to the fact that there were no pediatric doctors available we would need to be transferred to Halifax via Ambulance. Upon questioning the necessity of this the ER doctor explained that in a case of blood born illnesses our child could be dead before we would have to time to get him the care he needed. The Doctor explained that when we arrived in Halifax they would have the staff required to treat our son. He explained that the blood cultures will take 5 days to mature so we would be staying in the hospital for that time. He also warned us that a lumbar puncture may be required and would assist in a faster diagnosis. When my husband asked if this seemed excessive for a child who most likely simply had a cold the Doctor responded that nothing is too excessive when you are dealing with an unvaccinated child. We were then sent by ambulance to the children's hospital in Halifax where another catheter was done, and we were informed that Kai didn’t actually have a fever (if he were an adult his temperature would have been considered a fever, but in children the temperature is higher before being considered a fever). The nurses and doctors in Halifax appeared to be surprised that we were sent, by ambulance, all the way to the IWK. The results of twelve hours of various doctors, pain and suffering to my baby, and an enormous amount of stress to my entire family was....... a common cold! Both my family doctor and the attending doctor at the ER mentioned meningitis, which upon returning home I discovered is not normally vaccinated for until 12 months anyways!
My point is; while it might be our constitutional right to chose not to vaccinate your kids what will our children have to endure because of overreaction by physicians who do not respect our choices as parents.
I would like to add that the nurses and physicians at the IWK (and a few of the nurses at our local hospital) were not only amazing care givers but generally very considerate of our choices, and I thank them for the only respect I feel I received from medical staff all day.

1 comment:

  1. So awful. I was able to witness the same lack of respect for patient autonomy and informed consent when my friend gave birth to her baby there. There are a lot of good ones, but just a few with this attitude can be so damaging.