A Capistrano Beach physician who has written a book about child vaccines and whose father is a celebrated child development expert has been placed on probation for 35 months by the state medical board for recommending no more vaccinations for a 2-year-old patient whose mother said she had a bad reaction to shots.
Dr. Robert Sears, the son of Dr. William Sears, best known for the "Baby Book," which his son co-authored, signed a document in May agreeing to take an educational course "not less than 40 hours per year," take an additional class on ethics, and will be monitored by another physician during his probation, according to the agreement.
Sears is also prohibited during his probation from supervising physician assistants and advanced practice nurses.
The case against Sears, best known for "The Vaccine Book," which makes the case for the risks of vaccines and side effects, stems from his care of a 2-year-old boy in April 2014 through May 2015. The boy's mother reported "shut down stools and urine" for a day after shots at 2 months, and the toddler was "limp like a ragdoll" for 24 hours and "not himself" for up to a week following shots at 3 months, according to the board.
Sears wrote a letter for the mom on April 13, 2014, "excusing" the boy from any more vaccinations because, he wrote, the boy's kidneys and intestines shut down after prior shots and appeared to suffer from a "severe encephalitis reaction for 24 hours."
On June 23, 2014, the boy was seen by the doctor for a headache following his getting struck on the head by a hammer by his father, according to the board. The board found that Sears did not do further neurological testing or develop an assessment with future care plans.
The board found in the initial complaint that he was "grossly negligent and departed from the standard of care in that he did not obtain the basic information necessary for decision making, prior to determining to exclude the possibility of future vaccines, leaving both patient, the patient's mother, and his future contacts at risk for preventable and communicable diseases."
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Sears said on his Facebook page that he did "nothing wrong," but he agreed to the discipline because he felt he would have received probation anyway even if he had won in a trial.
Sears claimed he was targeted for investigation because he "picked a fight with a California legislator, and he has been very vocal about opening 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."
Sears said a "child and his mother came to me for help" with the mom describing how her child had "suffered a moderate to severe neurologic reaction to vaccines," and she feared a judge "was going to force her to resume vaccines now."
The doctor said medical records for the boy were not immediately available, so he signed off on a letter for the court.
"Getting the patient's medical records ended up taking over a year," he wrote. "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... I am going to first do no harm, every time."
Sears said he was compelled to sign the agreement based on the criticism of how he handled the visit regarding the headaches.
"I checked him out thoroughly, performed a complete neurologic exam, but you know what? I didn't write down all aspects of the exam," Sears wrote. "I documented everything else but that one detail."
Sears said there are four other possible cases pending against him.
Sears said he will continue his push to allow more freedom for parents to decide on whether to get shots for their children.
The physician said now that the one case is settled, "I can go back to being loud and proud about my belief that every single patient should receive complete informed consent prior to vaccinations... I will not rest until every single family has been given access to full, complete, objective and un-doctored information that makes every parent fully aware of the risks they accept if they don't vaccinate their child, and all the risks they take if they do vaccinate their child. Period. And I will fight against mandatory vaccination laws until they are no more."