Saturday, August 14, 2010

"They Essentially Have No Expertise"

I recently received this email from pediatrician Dr. Howard Pearson,who has been on the staff of Yale pediatrics for more than 40 years. Pearson, who wrote a history of the Yale Pediatrics Department, debunked Ayres' testimony that a Yale child psychiatrist named Al Solnit had trained first year pediatric interns to do physical exams. I thought I'd share it here:

Hi Ms Balfour:

I'm responding to your recent note re pediatrics at Yale.

In the 1950's, the Department was Chaired by Dr. Milton Senn, a psychiatrist who was also head of the Child Study Center - Yale's Child Psychiatry Service. Dr. Senn had very little pediatric training or experience and appointed a Clinical Chief, Dr. Nelson Ordway, an excellent clinician and teacher who was responsible for all clinical activities, including house staff recruiting, teaching and supervision. At that time, Dr. Solnit came to New Haven with a primary appointment in the Child Study Center. Although he had a joint appointment in Pediatrics, I'm confident that he did not instruct or teach anything except psychiatric subjects. He certainly would not have instructed in physical examinations.

Most physicians who want to be Child Psychiatrist sake a year post graduate internship ( PL1 ) in a pediatric service although some do a internal Medicine internship.

I am puzzled why a physician providing psychiatric consultations should perform any physical exams - that should probably have been a,"red flag." There is really no medical reason for a psychiatrist to physically examine a patient. They have essentially no expertise.

Although I have no hard data, I think that most pediatricians today and in the '50's try to have a parent in the room when they examine young children of either gender.. Adolescents are often embarrassed to have their parents in the room, although many pediatricians try to at least talk to their adolescent patients alone.

A female adolescent is almost always examined with a female attendant present; less frequent is having a chaparone in the room when an adolescent boy is examined - but in this day when the issue of sexual abuse is so prevalent some pediatricians do, particularly if the genitalia are examined.

H..A. Pearson.


  1. After Delaware pediatrician Dr. Earl Bradley was arrested in December on charges that he had raped and molested more than 100 children (some incidents he recorded on videotape), the Delaware governor just signed into law that states that every child in the state age 15 and under MUST have a chaperon present when they are physically being examined by a doctor.

  2. In May, 2010 I spoke with Dr. Silvio Onesti, who worked as a pediatrician when Ayres was at Yale from 1956-1959. Onesti admired the work of Yale child psychiatrist Dr. Al Solnit - the child psychiatrist Ayres claims taught him how to do physicals, which has been thoroughly debunked by Yale administrators -- so much that he then went on to become a child psychiatrist. Onesti is still working as a child psychiatrist in Boston and says as a therapist, he has NEVER performed a physical exam on a boy or girl in therapy.

    He also said, " I don't remember Yale having any rule that said boys didn't need chaperons when being physically examined. I highly doubt there was such a rule. When I was a pediatrician, we had either a nurse or a parent in the room."