South Florida ob-gyns reject overweight women

obeseSeveral ob-gyn doctors in South Florida have rejected patients because they are obese, sparking criticism from ethicists. In a poll of 105 obstetrics-gynaecology practices in South Florida, 15 said they refuse to treat even healthy patients who exceed certain weight cut-offs. Some practices set the cut-off at 200 pounds, according to a poll by Fort Lauderdale’s Sun Sentinel newspaper.

Some of the doctors said the main reason was that their exam tables or other equipment cannot handle people over a certain weight. At least six, however, said they tried to avoid obese patients because they have a higher risk of complications.

"People don't realize the risk we're taking by taking care of these patients," said Dr. Albert Triana, whose two-doctor practice in South Miami rejects patients classified as obese. "There's more risk of something going wrong and more risk of getting sued. Everything is more complicated with an obese patient in GYN surgeries and in [pregnancies]."

Dr. Robert Yelverton, a board member of the Florida Obstetric and Gynecologic Society, said he would discourage physicians from excluding the obese. “Do I think it's a good policy? No,” Yelverton said. “Overweight people need doctors. I don't know where a patient in that situation would go if every practice had that policy.”

A spokesman for the Obesity Action Coalition in Tampa said the restrictions sound like descrimination. “This completely goes against the principles of being a doctor,” James Zervios said. “Health care professionals are there to help individuals improve their quality of health, not stigmatize them according to their weight.” ~ Sun Sentinel, May 17; CBS News, May 17; Los Angeles Times, May 16


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