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Lawsuit Challenges Illinois Policy on Vitamin K Shots for Newborns

November 29, 2019

A group of parents filed a lawsuit in federal court against the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), pediatricians, and several hospitals after their newborn babies were seized for hours when the parents declined vitamin K shots

for hours when the parents declined vitamin K shots for their infants.

In 2018, DCFS rescinded a policy mandating vitamin K shots for newborns, but that did not stop investigations of parents for medical neglect when they refused the vaccines, the parents claim in their lawsuit.  Mandatory reporting laws require physicians and other health care providers may be legally obligated to report suspected child abuse, including refusal of medical treatment.

Vitamin K is commonly injected into newborns as a preventative measure to ensure normal blood clotting.

The attorney representing the parents, Richard Dvorak, told Health Care News universal policies mandating vaccines are unconstitutional.

“To interfere with a family’s decision to make medical choices on behalf of their children, you have to do it on a case-by-case basis,” said Dvorak. “You cannot come up with these blanket policies that apply to everyone. That is blatantly unconstitutional. It also flies in the face of Illinois law.”

Informed Consent at Issue

Ensuring informed consent for use of vaccines can raise difficult questions, says Jane Orient, M.D., executive director for the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, and a policy advisor to The Heartland Institute, which publishes Health Care News.

“Informed consent for vaccines may not be anything special but may be subsumed under permission for doctor to treat patient,” said Orient. “A lot of doctors may hand out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s dumbed-down information sheet. Arizona tried to pass a law requiring parents be given a list of ingredients [in vaccines] from manufacturers’ package inserts, and information on how to report an adverse reaction or file a claim with ‘Vaccine Court.’ It failed because of vigorous opposition by the medical society.”

Mandatory vaccination laws protect doctors from lawsuits for bad outcomes from immunizations, says Orient.

“It is hard to know if it is ever adequate when a bad result occurs, but doctors are immune from liability when giving mandated vaccines,” said Orient.

 

Ashley Bateman (bateman.ae@googlemail.comwrites from Alexandria, Virginia.

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Health Care Regulation
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Ashley Bateman writes from Alexandria, Virginia.
bateman.ae@googlemail.com