In a nation with 93 million obese people, a few ob-gyn doctors in South Florida now refuse to see otherwise healthy women solely because they are overweight. Fifteen obstetrics-gynecology practices out of 105 polled by the Sun Sentinel said they have set weight cut-offs for new patients starting at 200 pounds or based on measures of obesity — and turn down women who are heavier. Some of the doctors said the main reason was their exam tables or other equipment can’t handle people over a certain weight. But at least six said they were trying to avoid obese patients because they have a higher risk of complications.
While I have not specifically “refused to treat” obese patients, I have in a few cases recommended against surgery or recommended weight loss and re-evaluation later. Than again I am not in primary care and do understand what these OB/GYNs are saying. Obese patients do represent more risk when it comes to surgery and that would of course cover pregnancy and child bearing.
Take into account that insurance-based medicine does not pay anything additional for the risk certain populations pose to the medical community. This is truly uncompensated liability. It is really not surprising that some medical groups have figured it might be smart to cut that risk.
This practice has already been perceived in a discriminatory light by this story’s slant. I’d wager someone has statistically reduced management of the obese to increased risk of complications and litigation and decided to “pull the plug.” It is not discrimination. It is liability containment here.
John Di Saia MD