by Janet Levatin, MD
Holistic Pediatrician, Homeopathic Physician for Children and Adults
Almost on a daily basis I hear complaints from patients about how they have been mistreated by doctors who are part of today’s regular, conventional medical system. Here are a few stories I’ve been told.
- One woman had a son diagnosed with ADHD (attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder) at the age of seven. This caring mother wondered if there might be something she could do to help her child by using nutrition or supplements. When she asked her pediatrician this question, the doctor immediately launched into a tirade about how “so many ignorant parents want to do things naturally,” and “why can’t they just be compliant and use the medications prescribed for their kids.” He lashed out in such an angry manner that the mother left the office shaking and in tears, and didn’t go back.
- Other parents told me about their premature infant. He was bigger than some premies, but still only weighed 4 pounds at birth and had a few medical issues he needed to overcome in the newborn period. While he was on the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), the parents were asked no less than 12 times if they wanted him circumcised. Each time they declined, only to be asked again a couple days later by the same practitioner. These parents were also badgered repeatedly about giving their premie the hepatitis B vaccine. They knew they did not want to vaccinate their tiny infant at the tender age of one month old for a virus that is contracted through accidental needle sticks, sexual contact, or sharing needles with an infected person. They also had to repeatedly decline this completely unnecessary, and often harmful, elective procedure.
The argument the doctors tried to use to convince these parents to accept the vaccine went as follows: If the infant did not get the vaccine, he would be “off the schedule,” meaning not in compliance with today’s massively bloated vaccination schedule, which consists of approximately 50 vaccines between birth and kindergarten entry, and then even more in the subsequent years (and I’m not even counting the vaccines that are routinely given DURING pregnancy these days).
This was not the first time I have heard this brainless argument. No one today is treated as an individual. We are expected to line up and comply with guidelines, schedules and mandates that are applied to everyone. Often routine vaccines and other procedures and practices that everyone is supposed to do are called “quality measures” or “best practices,” however nothing could be further from the truth. It is never the “best practice” or good “quality” to do the same thing to everyone regardless of individual differences and susceptibility to the potential side effects.
Many patients come to me because they have been bullied by doctors and made to feel like bad, irresponsible people for declining procedures and prescriptions that are intrinsically elective, such as vaccines, circumcision, mammograms, statin drugs and blood pressure medications.
The word “doctor” is derived form the Latin verb docere, which means to teach or show. Unfortunately there is not much teaching going on these days. In today’s medical climate doctors have forgotten that their job is to serve people and help them get well. Instead, most doctors expect patients to submit to pre-set protocols that often line the pockets of pharmaceutical companies, government agencies, and medical trade organizations.
People can fight against these trends by taking some of the following steps:
1. Remember that your doctor works for you. You are not there to fulfill his or her agenda. Do not accept bullying or coercion. If it is occurring, find another practitioner.
2. Find practitioners who share your vision and approach to health. If you like to do things naturally, seek out practitioners of functional, integrative, naturopathic and homeopathic medicine. Osteopathic physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and family practitioners are often more flexible and openminded that “regular” MDs. This will eliminate unnecessary disagreements over how you choose to take care of yourself.
3. Consult practitioners who help you maintain your health in natural ways, not with unnecessary drugs. While pharmaceuticals are sometimes necessary, they should be the last resort, used only when really necessary. Avoid drugs that simply cover up every little symptom or are prescribed to treat chronic conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome and type 2 diabetes that can be often be corrected with lifestyle changes.
4. Take the necessary steps to keep yourself healthy so you do not need to rely on practitioners for treating illnesses, especially the chronic conditions that are all too common these days. That means eating healthy; avoiding toxic chemicals found in laundry, cleaning and body care products; and utilizing natural healing methods to correct imbalances in their early stages.
5. Most importantly, be your own primary care practitioner. YOU know what is best for you and your children. Use doctors as consultants to assist you with YOUR treatment plan.
Hopefully these ideas will inspire you to stay healthy and avoid “the system” unless making use of it is absolutely necessary.