Doctors throughout the United States are refusing to treat patients, even seriously ill patients, who have not received the COVID-19 vaccine.1 2 This comes at a time when there are a rising number of COVID-19 Delta variant cases occurring throughout the United States, with some hospitals in certain states being overwhelmed by the new cases.3
Jason Valentine, MD, a physician at Diagnostic and Medical Clinic Infirmary Health in Mobile, Alabama is one doctor that will not treat unvaccinated patients. He said:
We do not yet have any great treatments for severe disease, but we do have great prevention with vaccines. Unfortunately, many have declined to take the vaccine, and some end up severely ill or dead. I cannot and will not force anyone to take the vaccine, but I also cannot continue to watch my patients suffer and die from an eminently preventable disease.
Therefore, as of October 1st, 2021, I will no longer see patients that have not been vaccinated against COVID-19. If you wish to keep me as your physician, documentation of your vaccination will suffice. If you wish to choose another physician, we will be happy to transfer your records.4
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people who are vaccinated with COVID-19 vaccines can still get infected with the virus, known as “breakthrough cases,” which also means there is a risk vaccinated persons can transmit the infection to others.5
Doctors in South Florida Protest in Response to A Surge in Unvaccinated Patients
Seventy-five doctors recently participated in a symbolic walkout of a hospital in Palm Beach Gardens and other hospitals and medical offices in South Florida. All of the doctors were off-duty.6 The doctors who were part of this protest said that the majority of COVID-19 cases they are witnessing in their hospitals are among unvaccinated patients. The protest was to draw the attention of the public to get vaccinated.7
“We are exhausted. Our patience and resources are running low and we need your help,” said Rupesh Dharia, MD of Palm Beach Internal Medicine.8 “The vaccine still remains the most effective and reliable way to stop this madness,” said Leslie Diaz, MD of Jupiter Medical Center.9
NBC News reported that on July 30, 2021, 38 states had confirmed a total of 125,682 breakthrough cases. Breakthrough cases are when vaccinated individuals contract the virus.10
COVID-19 vaccination does not guarantee against hospitalization or death. Of the breakthrough COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts, 445 cases resulted in hospitalization and 106 in death. Of the cases in Minnesota, 514 fully vaccinated people ended up going to the hospital and 57 died.. Of the COVID-19 cases in Tennessee, 272 required hospitalization and 39 died.11
University of Washington Medical Center Denies Organ Transplants to Unvaccinated Patients
The University of Washington Medical Center is denying organ transplants to patients who refuse to get a COVID-19 vaccine. The hospital has refused to publicly answer questions and will not directly acknowledge that it even has such a policy.12
A news report found that UW Medicine removed a 64-year-old patient from the heart transplant waitlist. The patient, Sam Allen of Monroe, Washington, said he was on the list for two and a half years. The hospital made the decision after they learned the patient refused to get the COVID-19, telling him they would consider adding him back to the waitlist should he satisfy their “compliance concerns.”13
Allen said that three leaky heart valves impact the blood pumping into his lungs making it difficult for him to breathe, which played a role in why he refused to wear a mask in the medical facility. After he told his cardiologist that he wouldn’t get vaccinated, he received a letter dated June 7, 2021 informing him that he was removed from the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) waiting list for a heart.14
Allen wrote a letter back to UW Medicine saying:
As a person who has spent much time and money at UWMC as a heart failure patient, I am being told I cannot get care for my condition unless I take an injection that has shown to cause cardiac problems. It seems that a wise choice would be to not make a panic move and run to get injected with the experimental gene therapy until more is known.15
Doctor Refusal to Treat Patients Conflicts with Hippocratic Oath
Medical doctors refusing to treat patients who decline the COVID-19 vaccine raises the question of a doctor’s commitment to the Hippocratic oath and the ethical issues surrounding equal treatment. The modern version of the Hippocratic oath require doctors to all treat patients equally to the best of their ability and with compassion.16
According to Danielle Weatherby, JD, associate professor of law at the University of Arkansas, private doctors do have the right to legally refuse to treat patients in non-emergency situations for a variety of reasons, as long as the denial is not based on the person’s sex, religion or national origin. She adds:
The analysis becomes more nuanced when the patient’s refusal to vaccinate is rooted in their alleged deeply held religious beliefs.17
Other doctors believe that refusal to treat unvaccinated patients shows loss of professional and ethical standards in medicine. Aaron Kheriaty, MD, a professor of psychiatry at the University of California Irvine stated:
The logic employed here would never be applied elsewhere in medicine. Doctors try to help patients be responsible for their health; and we try to persuade them to make healthy decisions, to be sure; but we don’t abandon them when they make medical or health-related decisions that we don’t condone. Doctors treat the sick because they are sick, and simply because they are fellow human beings in need of care; we do not blame the sick for their plight.18
“A blanket condemnation of all the unvaccinated is unwarranted and unworthy of the profession of medicine,” Dr. Kheriaty said.19
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Click here to view References:
1 Planas A, Radnofsky C. Alabama Doctor Pledges To Stop Treating Unvaccinated Patients. NBC News Aug. 20, 2021.
2 Collman A. 75 doctors from South Florida hospitals staged a symbolic walkout to protest a surge in unvaccinated COVID-19 patients. Business Insider Aug. 24, 2021.
3 Planas A, Radnofsky C. Alabama Doctor Pledges To Stop Treating Unvaccinated Patients. NBC News Aug. 20, 2021.
4 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Possibility of COVID-19 after Vaccination: Breakthrough Infections. Aug. 23, 2021.
5 Collman A. 75 doctors from South Florida hospitals staged a symbolic walkout to protest a surge in unvaccinated COVID-19 patients. Business Insider Aug. 24, 2021.
10 Strickler L. Breakthrough Covid cases: Data shows how many vaccinated Americans have tested positive. NBC News July 30, 2021.
11 Cáceres M. Vaccinated Americans are Being Hospitalized for COVID and Dying. The Vaccine Reaction Aug. 15, 2021.
12 Rantz J. Rantz: UW Medicine pulls heart transplant patient from list after refusing COVID vaccine. MyNorthWest.com Aug. 20, 2021.
16 Mehtalia J. COVID-19: An Alabama doctor is refusing to treat unvaccinated patients. Is he right? In.News.Yahoo.com Aug. 21, 2021.