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Should doctors be allowed to refuse obese patients?
Some Florida gynecologists have set weight limits for their patients, saying it's too risky to treat women over 200 pounds. Is that discrimination?
 
Some Florida gynecologists have set a weight limit for patients, fearing both complications and possible malpractice suits.
Some Florida gynecologists have set a weight limit for patients, fearing both complications and possible malpractice suits.
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Some gynecologists in South Florida are confronting the obesity epidemic their own way: By refusing to treat even otherwise healthy patients who clock in above a certain weight. The Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel polled 105 OB/GYN practices, and found that 15 of them either set weight limits — starting at 200 pounds — or use other obesity tests to filter out would-be patients. Their reasons? They say exam tables can't handle heavy women and point out that obese patients run a higher risk of complications — raising the threat of malpractice lawsuits. Are these policies fair?

This should be illegal: "Turning someone away because their treatment could get tough sounds like a form of discrimination," says Anna North at Jezebel, "even if it's one that's not currently prohibited by law." Meanwhile, these women are not sick, just overweight. But if they can't find medical care, they may develop otherwise avoidable health problems.
"Gynecologists refuse patients for being too fat"

Hey, doctors have to protect themselves: People don't realize how risky it is to deal with massively overweight patients, says Dr. Albert Triana, one of the obstetricians quoted in the Sun-Sentinel whose practice won't treat the obese. There really is an elevated danger that something will go wrong, and doctors will get sued. "Everything is more complicated with an obese patient in GYN surgeries and in [pregnancies]."
"Some ob-gyns in South Florida turn away overweight women"

Running away from the problem won't help: The number of obese patients in America keeps growing, says Maressa Brown at The Stir, and "these doctors are terrified that they're not equipped to handle 'high-risk' patients." But the way to protect your practice isn't shutting out people who need your care. A good doctor would react to the challenge by "learning what they can do to help these higher-risk women."
"OB/GYNs refusing obese women aren't practicing medicine"

 

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