Dr. Robert Sears, a pediatrician infamous for promoting alternative vaccine schedules that allow parents to delay or entirely avoid the life-saving jabs, has been placed on a 35-month probation by the Medical Board of California.
The punishment stems from an accusation filed by the board in 2016 claiming Sears demonstrated gross negligence in the case of a two-year-old. The board alleged that Sears gave the young patient an exemption from all future vaccinations without reviewing any of the child’s medical records, including those that indicate which vaccines the child had received and any subsequent reactions the child suffered. Sears instead relied on an account from the child’s mother, who said the child went limp and that the child’s kidneys and intestines “shut down” after vaccinations.
The board also cited Sears for later examining the child for a head injury after the child had reportedly been “‘hit on head with hammer’ by Dad.” Sears failed to follow up with standard neurological testing, the board wrote.
Sears agreed to settle the case. In a Facebook post first reported by the Los Angeles Times, Sears denied wrongdoing, writing:
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? After all, I don’t want a child to receive a medical treatment that could cause more harm. I am going to first do no harm, every time.
Sears also noted that the board had four additional cases pending against him.
“It seems there is an attempt to keep me on probation for the rest of my medical career,” Sears wrote.
Under the terms of the probation, Sears must take 40 hours of medical education classes as well as ethics courses each year of his nearly three-year probation. He must also be monitored by another licensed physician or surgeon, one who has no pre-existing business or personal connection to Sears. Last, Sears must notify all hospitals and medical facilities he attends of his probation.
The case against Sears has been closely watched, the Times noted, since the state passed the law known as SB 277 in 2015. The law prohibits vaccine exemptions on religious or personal belief grounds. That only leaves medical issues as justifications for children attending public or private schools to miss the standard childhood vaccinations. After the law went into affect, data indicated that medical exemptions shot up in counties with previously high rates of personal belief exemptions, suggesting that anti-vaccine or “vaccine hesitant” parents were able to locate doctors willing to provide new medical exemptions.