Dr. Jason Valentine Alabama doctor refuses to treat unvaccinated patients. Is a Mobile based physician at Diagnostic and Medical Clinic crossing ethical boundaries?
An Alabama doctor has said he will soon refuse to treat anyone who is not inoculated against the deadly virus, explaining on Facebook, ‘COVID is a miserable way to die and I can’t watch them die like that.’
Dr. Jason Valentine, who works at Diagnostic and Medical Clinic Infirmary Health in Mobile, AL, posted a photo of himself on Facebook next to a sign that read, ‘effective Oct. 1, 2021, Dr. Valentine will no longer see patients that are not vaccinated against COVID-19,’ according to AL.com.
Valentine’s post — which could no longer be viewed as of Wednesday afternoon — included a picture of him standing next to a sign that said his new requirement would take effect October 1, according to AL.com. Since posting the message, three unvaccinated patients have asked him where they could receive the vaccine, Valentine said.
About his patients inquiring about his decision, Valentine said, ‘I told them COVID is a miserable way to die and I can’t watch them die like that,’ AL.com reported.
‘No conspiracy theories, no excuses. Just where do they go?’ the doctor reportedly wrote.
When are physicians allowed not to treat patients?
The social media posting comes as Alabama state remains one of the lowest percentages of state residents in the US that have been vaccinated. To date only 36 percent of Alabama’s population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, far less than the national average of 52 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Valentine reportedly explained his decision in a letter to patients.
‘We do not yet have any great treatments for severe disease, but we do have great prevention with vaccines. Unfortunately, many have declined to take the vaccine, and some end up severely ill or dead. I cannot and will not force anyone to take the vaccine, but I also cannot continue to watch my patients suffer and die from an eminently preventable disease,’ the letter stated.
Under the Civil Rights Act, doctors can’t deny treatment based on a patient’s age, sex, race, sexual orientation, religion, or national origin, but its unclear if a doctor can refuse to treat a patient over vaccination status.
According to the American Medical Association’s Code of Medical Ethics, physicians are obliged to treat emergencies, but otherwise they are ‘not ethically required to accept all prospective patients … in certain limited circumstances.’
‘In absence of a medical emergency, these limited circumstances include a situation when a patient may pose a threat to the health and wellbeing of the physician, staff, or other patients,’ a medical source told the nypost.
On Tuesday, the entire state of Alabama was out of reportedly ICU beds amid the ratcheting Delta variant crisis.
What about if you smoke or drink too much? Can a doctor still refuse to see you?
On Tuesday, there were 1,568 patients who needed ICU beds but only 1,557 ICU beds available for the entire state, Don Williamson, president of the Alabama Hospital Association, told WSFA.
‘This could have been prevented had we gotten vaccination numbers to higher levels.’
A 7-day average of 3,728 new cases in Alabama approached the state’s worst days of the pandemic in the early winter, when that number was just over 4,000, government statistics show.
It remained unclear whether other physicians will be taking a similar approach to Valentine’s post and whether Alabama state would seek to force/sanction the physician to treat unvaccinated patients (or as some wondered, why not just also add patients who refuse to quit smoking?) should a case be brought against the medic.