Faith or Neglect?

faithsMost parents believe in modern medicine, and trust physicians.  They may not do everything that their doctor suggests, but generally speaking, they will abide by our recommendations.  However, parents are increasingly questioning their physicians and evidence-based medicine in general.  This is particularly true for some religious groups, whether they be small cult-like sects or more mainstream groups like Jehova’s Witnesses or Scientologists.  Lately it seems I am frequently negotiating with patients to do what is medically appropriate while not violating their faith.

I tend to be respectful of different faiths and opinions and try not to bully people into doing what I want.  However, when the patient is a child, and the parents want to avoid necessary medical treatment, we’ve got a problem.   So far, I have never had to get a judge to force parents to treat their child, but I think it’s coming.

There have been some sensational cases of neglected children dying of preventable causes such as diabetes, urinary tract infections, etc.  Even more common is the unvaccinated child, who becomes much more likely to get ill, or die as a result of preventable infections.

I certainly don’t think that modern (evidence-based) medicine has a monopoly on health, but I think many people forget its primary foundation.  Evidence based simply means that doctors offer treatments that have been tested using the scientific method, and have been found to be safe and effective.  Once you eliminate that simple requirement, you are dealing with treatments that may or may not have any merit, and potentially could be dangerous.

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