A California doctor who’s well known for his opposition to vaccine science was just given 35 months of probation for exempting some children from all vaccines without proper medical reasons.
Dr. Bob Sears, who markets himself to parents who want to avoid vaccinating their kids, accepted the 35-month deal as part of a settlement with the Medical Board of California. He places the blame squarely upon the medical board’s shoulders, and seems to think there is an ulterior motive involved.
Sears accepted the deal after being accuse of providing a full-on vaccine exemption to a child whose medical records he hadn’t even seen.
An attorney general’s complaint filed Sept. 2, 2016, alleged that Sears deviated from the standard of care by not “obtaining the basic information needed for decision making” before exempting the child from all vaccinations.
By doing so, the complaint said, Sears exposed both the child and his mother to infections.
That is a dangerous choice, especially for someone who took an oath to “do no harm.” And at first glance, the punishment seems like a slap on the wrist.
The June 27 order, which will go into effect on July 27, allows Sears to continue his medical practice but requires him to go through 40 hours of educational courses for each year of probation and a professional ethics course.
He must also be monitored by another licensed doctor during his probation period.
The board also requires Sears to notify all locations where he practices within seven days of the order going into effect.
Sears accepted the terms of the settlement, but that didn’t stop him from lashing out at the medical board and even blaming an unnamed California politician.
Why accept a settlement when I’ve done nothing wrong? The challenge with medical board cases is that even if I win on all aspects of a case, the medical board can still exercise its authority and put me on probation anyway. I win, or lose, a trial before a judge, then the medical board decides the punishment based on how they see the facts. Since it was likely that I’d get probation anyway, I accepted the offer.
All this for a court opinion letter? Medical boards are normally tasked with protecting patients against doctors who do things like sell drugs, see patients while intoxicated, commit insurance fraud, prescribe a wrong drug that ends up hurting a patient. However, this investigation probably came from higher up the chain of command. I picked a fight with a California Legislator, and he 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. I signed up for this.
He also told his side of the story, in which he seems to admit he did something wrong (namely offering an exemption without reviewing relevant information).
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 judgement 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. 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.
No, Sears, your job isn’t to take parents’ words as gospel and believe everything they say. Your job is to look at the data, and treat illnesses based on that data. You failed to do the most important part of your job, which is reviewing all the important information and choosing the best course for the child (not just the parents).
While the punishment may seem light, Sears explains that there are several other cases pending against him, and that the medical board wants to keep him “on probation for the rest of his medical career.”
Is this fight over? No it is not. This was just case number one. The medical board is already lining up four more cases, and these will be about vaccine medical exemptions under the new vaccine law. It seems there is an attempt to keep me on probation for the rest of my medical career. But the one thing I’m going to do differently this time is that I’m going to be very open with all the proceedings. With case one, I was silent. Upon the recommendation of my lawyers I haven’t said a thing until now. But I’m tired of being quiet.
I look forward to the rest of these cases, and to “Dr.” Sears being “vocal” about them. The best thing he could do for the medical community is ignore the advice of his lawyers.