He’s worked at one of the best known children’s hospitals in the country and earned acclaim for caring for children. Now pediatrician Dr. Melvin Levine has been barred from practicing medicine anywhere in the country after accusations that he improperly touched five children’s genitals.
Levine, who once worked at Children’s Hospital in Boston and more recently practiced in Chapel Hill, N.C. where he co-founded a research institute at the University of North Carolina, has been accused of improperly performing examinations on the children’s genital regions. The allegations prompted the North Carolina Medical Board to call for Levine’s resignation of his medical license. It will keep him away from kids in North Carolina and around the country.
He’s just one doctor, but the story highlights the stress any parent feels when it comes time to pick a pediatrician. We want someone we can trust – and not just in terms of their sexual proclivities. We want to know that they’re good at their job; a lot of us will take what the health insurance doles out for our own general practitioner, but we want a pediatrician who is on top of his or her game. We want someone we know we can talk to too, someone who will field our calls and answer our dumbest questions when we are nervous about the clogged tear duct or the fact that he’s eight months and no teeth are popping through.
My first pediatric choice was simple – the neonatologist whose office my mother (a healthcare practitioner) had shared for years, there was no question. But when he retired on my late last year, I was in a tizzy. How do you replace the man who could look you in the eyes, tell you “everything is just fine, she’s developing at a perfect rate,” and make you realize you were just plain old neurotic? How do you find another doctor who refuses to pawn off the basics of childcare on his nurse (I’ve heard horror stories from friends whose pediatrician is in the room for maybe two minutes, leaving all the heavy lifting, including the vaccinations, to an RN)?
We depend on our pediatricians like few other people in our kids’ lives. What would you do if your pediatrician were charged with a crime? Line up for his defense or smack yourself for trusting him?
Image: Boston Globe