Portland pediatrician Paul Norman Thomas has agreed to significant restrictions on his medical practice that prevent him from discussing vaccinations with patients, according to an “interim order” issued June 3 by the Oregon Medical Board. The Portland Business Journal first reported the board’s action.
The board had suspended Thomas’ license last December, saying he had failed to adequately vaccinate patients and had repeatedly misled patients about vaccinations. It cited a case where a nonimmunized 6-year-old boy contracted tetanus, requiring a harrowing two-month stay at OHSU Hospital.
Such severe tetanus cases are extremely rare, since there’s a vaccine to prevent the bacterial disease.
“It’s always hard to watch a child suffer,” OHSU pediatric critical-care specialist Dr. Carl Eriksson told The Oregonian/OregonLive in 2019, referring to the tetanus case. “It is harder when we know they are suffering from something that’s preventable, and obviously we do everything we can to try to avoid those situations.”
The medical board stated that Thomas had published an “alternative vaccination schedule” that “fraudulently asserts that following his vaccine schedule will prevent or decrease the incidence of autism and other developmental disorders.” This schedule, the board wrote, exposed children to “multiple potentially debilitating and life-threatening illnesses.”
In April, the board issued a notice of proposed disciplinary action against Thomas for “making false or misleading statements regarding the efficacy of the licensee’s treatments, repeated negligence and gross negligence in the practice of medicine … and failing to report an adverse action,” among other allegations.
Thomas practices medicine at Integrative Pediatrics on Southwest Barnes Road. The practice’s website promotes its “vaccine-friendly doctors,” which it defines as “those who honor the informed consent process and will allow informed patients to decide for themselves whether or not to get a vaccine for themselves or their children.” The site says Thomas is “affectionately known as ‘Dr. Paul’” and notes his “massive social media following.”
The medical board this month withdrew Thomas’ license suspension, replacing it with the interim order as it continues its investigation. The board said Thomas will “voluntarily limit his practice to acute care; refrain from engaging in consultations or directing clinic staff with respect to vaccination protocols questions, issues or recommendations; and refrain from performing any research involving patient care pending the completion of the Board’s investigation into his ability to safely and competently practice medicine.”
— Douglas Perry