Study Reveals That Doctors Are Slow To Diagnose Re-Emerging Illnesses That Vaccines Could Have Prevented
“Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” – Sir Winston Churchill.
This statement is as true to matters of politics and diplomacy as it is to medicine. The Chicago Tribune posted a somewhat alarming article today about how young doctors frequently fail to diagnose diseases that were once very common. The article reveals that in the 1950’s nearly every child under 10 years old contracted measles, and 20 percent of those were hospitalized with complications ranging from pneumonia to encephalitis. Clearly, the significant risks to children posed by measles, that were seen day in and day out by physicians, placed the signs of symptoms of this disease at the forefront of their minds when forming a diagnosis and treatment plan. Since vaccinations for measles have nearly eliminated the disease entirely from the United States, most physicians have no experience at all with the disease beyond a historical recitation from text books. This lack of first-hand understanding can lead younger doctors to miss a diagnosis that would have been patently obvious to their elders.
My take away from this article is not that doctors need to study harder in medical school. The real issue here is the failure to diligently continue administering vaccinations to children for all diseases, even those that are no longer common. For whatever reason, many parents have a lack of appreciation for the importance of vaccinations. I was born in 1971 and have no memory of any major health epidemic from my childhood. My father was born in 1944 when polio was still a major concern. Back then, the risk analysis was a no brainer. Parents that saw first-hand the devastating toll that these diseases took on the lives of children couldn’t get in line for vaccinations fast enough. Nowadays, there is a potential for parents to be lulled into a false sense of security. The irony is that it was the effectiveness and success of the vaccinations that created the impression that all is clear. Let’s hope that we can keep these problems in the history books and not be doomed repeat what should and could be avoided.