Dr. Paul Thomas, a prominent anti-vaccine pediatrician in Oregon, had his license suspended Dec. 3 on an emergency basis after the state's medical board found evidence he had violated standard medical practices related to vaccines.
The Oregon Medical Board took the unusual step after reviewing evidence that alleged Thomas guided his patients away from getting the standard course of childhood vaccinations—and that patients suffered vaccine-preventable diseases possibly as a result.
"The Board has determined from the evidence available at this time that Licensee's continued practice of medicine would pose an immediate danger to the public and to his patients," the board's order of emergency suspension states. 'Therefore, it is necessary to immediately suspend his license to practice medicine. To do otherwise would subject Licensee's patients to the serious risk of harm while this case remains under investigation."
Nearly two years ago, Thomas, who runs a large clinic in Beaverton, was the subject of a WW cover story ("Alt-Vaxx," March 20, 2019). The initial complaint listed by the medical board matches the details recounted in the WW story: A mother requested vaccines that Thomas did not have on hand, and he tried to dissuade her from getting her child vaccinated.
Dr. Thomas "asked her how awful she would feel if Patient A [her child] got autism and she could have prevented it," the order states.
But the medical board also reviewed troubling new allegations that Thomas appeared to push parents not to accept vaccines, including the rotavirus vaccine, and that several of his unvaccinated patients were hospitalized after not getting the vaccine.
That included 10-month-old twins who "were suffering from severe dehydration and serum electrolyte abnormalities and required five days of hospitalization (April 25-30, 2019)," according to the medical board order.
Possibly even more alarming was this statement, by the mother of the twins: "Patient G and Patient H's mother stated during hospitalization that she thought her children had received rotavirus vaccine." That raises the question of whether Dr. Thomas was withholding vaccines that parents wanted or assumed their children were getting. (The medical board order does not address that question.)
The board also took issue with his alleged decision to study his patient's immune response to the measles mumps rubella vaccine.
In so doing, he ordered antibody tests of 905 patients, and the order suggests the tests ordered between 2002 and 2015 were unnecessary. But more troubling were the findings he made and apparently did not act on: that 122 of his patients did not have sufficient antibodies, including 90 of the patients who had not had a second vaccine that is part of the standard vaccination schedule.
"Knowingly leaving these children inadequately protected against a preventable, potentially debilitating illness constitutes 90 acts of gross and repeated negligence in violation of ORS 677.190(13) and constitutes unprofessional or dishonorable conduct in violation of ORS 677.190(1)(a)," the order states.
Thomas also was a doctor of a high-profile patient who contracted tetanus on a farm and spent two months in an intensive care unit, WW reported in 2019. But the medical board order includes a new detail: that he apparently saw the patient for follow-up care. "Licensee's notes documented a referral to a homeopath, recommendation of fish oil supplements, and 'phosphatidyl seine [an apparent supplement],'" the order states. "He did not document an informed consent discussion about the risk/benefit of immunization for a child who had just sustained and…remained vulnerable despite prior infection, to tetanus, a life-threatening and disabling disease that is preventable by proper vaccination."
The medical board says he placed the patient "at serious risk of harm and constitutes gross negligence."
Thomas did not respond to requests for comment.
Rachel Monahan reported this story with the support of the Dennis A. Hunt Fund for Health Journalism, a program of the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism's 2020 National Fellowship.