Every physician makes mistakes, and I understand that. Unfortunately for doctors, the mistakes we make can cost kids their lives. For most of us, thankfully, there are enough checks in our work to keep the fallout of those mistakes to a minimum.
One of the best checks is parental intuition. So parents, keep listening to that small voice inside you that asks, Are you sure this is right? whenever anyone tells you something important about your children.
Recently, one mother wrote to me about a friend’s bad experience with a pediatrician. Her friend took her son to the doctor. When discussing sexual activity, the pediatrician advised the 13-year-old boy (in front of his mother) that he could begin sex when he felt “ready.” Huh? What medical school did he go to?
Has the doctor not visited the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (note the title) website in the past ten years and read that the U.S. currently suffers from a sexually transmitted disease epidemic, which has hit teens the hardest? Has he not noticed that only a few short years ago 15.3 million Americans contracted a new STD each year and that number recently swelled to 20 million (half of whom are young people)?
Maybe he believes that condoms are his patient’s magic bullet. If so, has he read what the NIH said about the efficacy of condoms in their report? I quote, “condoms at best reduce the risk of HIV and gonorrhea in men but for all other STD’s, there is insufficient evidence that they reduce the risk at all.”
If you are a parent of a teen, sadly, your pediatrician probably will tell your son or daughter that sex is their decision. She will offer guidance about birth control, maybe give the speech on the importance of using condoms, and try to say these things without you present. Your doctor isn’t trying to be a bad physician; the problem is, she’s just not paying attention.