Saturday, March 8, 2008

In Case There Was Any Doubt

There are a lot of interviews out there with the Polings, following the announcement that the Vaccine Injury Compensation program had ruled in their favor. One of them I saw was over at ABC News.

Two things struck me when I viewed the video that's up in the upper right corner on that page. The first is "What's their lawyer doing with them?" I mean, the decision is already in, and this is a civil case, not a criminal case. Were they afraid that they would say something incriminating? Or were they afraid that they would say something that would jeopardize the amount of the pending settlement?

So then I looked up the lawyer. The lawyer is Cliff Shoemaker, who is no stranger to vaccine litigation. As it says on his website,

"Today, Cliff is one of the lawyers focusing his attention on the national disaster that occurred in the 90's when we poisoned a substantial number of our children with mercury, creating an autism epidemic."

Cliff was also evidently the lead attorney for CoMed (Lisa Sykes) in suing the FDA to get mercury out of vaccines.

The other thing that struck me about that ABC interview was that the father, Dr. Jon Poling, referred to the head of the CDC, Dr. Julie Gerberding, as "Ms. Gerberding" when there's about 3:30 left in the video. Now it may have just been a slip of the tongue on his part, but I find it hard to believe that a doctor would not know that the head of the CDC was a physician (who also holds a Master's in Public Health). And I also find it hard to believe that a doctor would not use a fellow physician's title when referring to her. Unless of course he was trying to purposely make her seem less knowledgeable and important. I mean, after seeing over at Kristina Chew's site that Jenny McCarthy is calling for the immediate resignation of Julie Gerberding as the head of the CDC, I started to wonder. If I was a conspiracy theorist, I might think that the Polings were coordinating with the Age of Autism folks to try and get Gerberding removed.

Meanwhile, Lenora pointed out in a comment to my last post that Dr. Poling gave an interview over at WebMD that didn't seem to jive with the press conferences.

Indeed, in that interview Poling says both

"I don't think the case should scare people," says Poling, 37, who emphasizes that vaccines, like all of medicine, carry risks and benefits.

as well as

"Vaccines are one of the most important, if not the most important advance, in medicine in at least the past 100 years. But I don't think that vaccines should enjoy a sacred cow status, where if you attack them you are out of mainline medicine."

"Every treatment has a risk and a benefit. To say there are no risks to any treatment is not true.''

"Sometimes people are injured by a vaccine, but they are safe for the majority of people. I could say that with a clean conscience. But I couldn't say that vaccines are absolutely safe, that they are not linked to brain injury and they are not linked to autism."

This interview seems to be a "face saving" attempt by Dr. Poling with the mainstream medical community. A way for him to say that he knows that there is no science behind the court decision, but that he didn't need science, just a little doubt. The WebMD quotes are clearly different from his media interviews, where he emphasizes that he feels strongly that there are thousands of other cases just like his. Statements that will certainly scare people away from vaccination.

I find it hard to comprehend why a physician could (rightly) admit that there are risks to every procedure or treatment, and then feel entitled to payment when something happens. Has he bought into the theory that every bad outcome needs to be compensated? I hope he isn't too disappointed when patients start sueing him for every bad outcome that happens to them, whether it was his fault or not.

My parents used to criticize me hanging out with certain kids because they weren't good kids. They rightly told me that I would be judged by the company I keep.

Well, Dr. Poling, I think you're going to be judged by the company you keep, as well as all the comments you make. A little backsliding on a medical site won't make up for the fear mongering and atrocious statements not backed up by science that you make to the media, or the fact that you are hanging out with people who hold views that are not supported by any science at all.


Daisy said...

"...fear mongering and atrocious statements not backed up by science..." -- so well said. He does not represent the medical field -- at least I hope not.

kristina said...

I thought that lawyer's name sounded familiar---a Freudian slip on Dr. Poling's part?

Emily, as some know me said...

There is no question that had Dr. Gerberding been male, Mr. Poling would have referred to the CDC director as Dr. It's unfortunately quite common in academe and medicine for there to be a presumption that a woman does not have the doctoral terminal degree. From students to colleagues, you will run into this assumption, and the reverse, as well: men are always assumed to have the doctoral degree, their actual CVs notwithstanding.

That said, I'm pretty sure Mr. Poling knew damned good and well that Dr. Gerberding is an MD, and he elected to diminish her by using the less-elite-sounding honorific. There's probably a mix of things going on here. She's certainly of higher professional standing that he is, and he should have referred to her as Dr., regardless.

Club 166 said...

...It's unfortunately quite common in academe and medicine for there to be a presumption that a woman does not have the doctoral terminal degree. ...

Certainly this occurs in medicine, when the person is unknown. It is not uncommon for female resident physicians to be referred to as "Nurse" when rounding on patients. (not to diss nurses, as I'm the son of one). It doesn't happen so much amongst colleagues once they know each other.


Emily, as some know me said...

My experience has been that not only do I get addressed as "ms" by my colleagues, but also I'm often addressed as "miss," as in "How are you doing today, Miss Emily?" This happens to me ALL the time and has even happened to me twice in tenure-track job interviews, in which the interviewers were undoubtedly aware of my educational status.

Emily, as some know me said...

How about this? He's said and it's been reported repeatedly that "he left his position" at Hopkins (one outlet said his "coveted" job as chief resident, which is a one-year post) to take a job in private practice to afford Hannah's treatments. But his own CV, posted online, says that he finished at Hopkins in 2001 (his 3rd year of residency). Hannah got those shots in 2000. He was simply finishing his residency in neurology at Hopkins at that point and, if following the standard path of most docs, would have gotten a job in private practice either way. I've posted about this at Autism Vox, too. To me, it seems like manipulation of facts to add pathos. This added to that video of their daughter just kind of creeps me out as much as the six opinions about vaccines we've gotten from the interviews.

Club 166 said...


I'm surprised to see that sexism is worse on college campuses (which I would expect to be much more liberal than a medical center).

As to fudging the facts of his residency, yea, he completed his residency and went out and got a job. He has a pretty good pedigree of training, but not an academic career. I guess the slant they put on that doesn't bother me as much as them pushing this case as a general autism case, rather than what it is, a mito case.


Marla said...

Interesting comments. It is beyond my comprehension why people will not accept scientific studies. Many of the people I know that are anti vaccine do have healthy children. I doubt it has anything to do with not having the vaccines. And yet,these families I know are the ones who tend to be the most ignorant and rude in understanding my daughter's diagnosis and ask me the most irresponsible/hurtful questions in regards to the cause/treatment of her Autism and CVS.

I always wonder what these families would do if one of their children became seriously ill or are one day diagnosed with Autism, ADHD or something like that. I feel for those children if that ever happens. The choices those parents would probably make in regards to helping a child like my daughter would be unimaginable to me. Does that make sense? I hope so.

Club 166 said...

Unfortunately, Marla, it makes perfect sense.

It's like we're living in the 21st century, yet clinging to 17th century superstitions and beliefs.

You almost expect some people to come out and say "She's a witch, I tell ye."


Anonymous said...

Regardless of anything that has happened news presses. Unfortunatly, I have a child who ended up with both ADHD and Asbergers Syndrome(a form of autism). They both are unexplainable since no one in neither mine or my husband family has either diagnosis. According to my research, her first 2 years of life contained the vaccines with high mercury. While I am not anti-vaccine, because it can save a child's life, I think children who were administered these high mercury vaccines, developed complications should be compensated. Compensated only because for the most part these kids will need medical treatment for life and some may not ever be able to live on their own.
So, in response to all of the posts..I believe some children did end up with major issues they will have for life due to the number of years high mercury vaccines were given. If someone out there can help me to help my daughter...please contact me via e-mail
Thank you.