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Doctors Refuse To Treat Fat Women. Excuse Me?

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Doctors Refuse To Treat Fat Women. Excuse Me?

Yes. You read that title right. It’s heartbreakingly true. According to this article, 15 OB/GYN practices in South Florida have set a weight limit and will not accept obstetrics or gynecology patients who weigh more.

“People don’t realize the risk we’re taking by taking care of these patients,” the South Florida Sun-Sentinel quoted Dr. Albert Triana of South Miami as saying. “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].”

Why You Should Be Pissed At These Docs

My tweeps are already all a-Twitter about this news, and I’m livid right along with them. Who are these doctors to determine who can and can’t get care? And how dare they discriminate against a woman just because she’s overweight? You can guarantee that the overweight woman probably beats herself enough for her obesity, and the last thing she needs is to be rejected by her doctor when she’s pregnant or in need of gynecologic care. Way to kick a girl when she’s down.

It’s easy to get your blood boiling if you imagine that these misogynistic docs are sitting around the doctor’s lounge, making fat jokes and scheming up ways to discriminate against overweight women. You can just see them fighting over the weight limit and getting their jollies on by trying to define “fat.” You can imagine that these gynecologists only want pretty patients to do Pap smears on and they’d prefer not to deliver babies amidst rolls of vulva.

And if you feel that way and it pisses you off, you have every reason to feel that way. I certainly would, if I wasn’t an OB/GYN myself.

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Lissa Rankin

Lissa Rankin, MD is a mind-body medicine physician, founder of the Whole Health Medicine Institute training program for physicians and other health care providers, and the New York Times bestselling author of Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself.  She is on a grassroots mission to heal health care, while empowering you to heal yourself.  Lissa blogs at and also created two online communities - and She is also the author of two other books, a professional artist, an amateur ski bum, and an avid hiker. Lissa lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband and daughter.


+ add your own
8:24AM PDT on Jul 31, 2012

One should not be forced to sign any waiver stating that you cannot sue a hospital/doctor if one is overweight as suggested in a comment below. What happens if the doctor is guilty of malpractice?

Denying patients because they have more of a risk factor is ridiculous. Why even become a doctor? What next, denying cancer patients treatment because they have more of a chance of dying than someone with a broken leg?

2:07PM PDT on Oct 13, 2011

how on earth is this legal?!

2:16PM PDT on Oct 9, 2011

oh hell no! like the bigger lady is any less important than the little lady. We're all ladies and beutiful regardless of size and all deserve the same treatment. It ahould be as illegal as racism

9:00PM PDT on Jul 13, 2011

Oh yep I have heard about this too. Mind you perhaps there might be an insurance legality in amongst the issue b/c lots of people sue for blinking.

1:56AM PDT on Jun 18, 2011

So if a baby dies from lack of care, because the doctors refused to treat the pregnant mother in labor, can she sue the doctors that let her lie on the floor?

I don't know if this is a state or a federal law, but I just know around here, if a doctor is going to refuse to treat you, that doctor HAS to refer the patient to someone else who may be able to help. And the referrals continue until a practitioner is found that will treat the patient.

So lets blame these doctors for insurance being so expensive, health care prices being driven sky high, co-pays & deductibles being unaffordable... The refusal to treat is to refuse to do no harm.

3:54PM PDT on Jun 17, 2011

There should be balance in the system. There are doctors out there who should not be practicing, but tstill have their licenses. Doctors seem to want to protect their own. It is not easy to sue. I know of someone who died because the staples didn't fire correctly. There was massive hemorrhaging, a panic that caused more damage and terrible cascade that cost a life. No one would take the lawsuit. Nurses don't want to testify at the risk of their jobs, doctors don't want to alienate other doctors... What's the proper out come? Who's at fault, doctor, medical device manufacturer, both, neither? What is the price of a life?

If there is no cost, or the "cap" is too low, for poor medical treatment, what is the incentive to improve? To decrease mistakes, to reduce infection rates... Particularly if there is a wall of silence.

If there were universal health care then medical expenses wouldn't be an issue. There might be an attempt to retrieve costs as apposed to predict them and pay upfront.

There needs to be balance. The aim should be improved care. And there needs to be a better watchdog system that is geared toward identifying problem doctors, hospitals (nursing homes, etc.) and medical staff. As well as, implementing best practices.

As far as high risk patients, isn't their identification as high risk somewhat protective for anyone treating them? Might there be a benefit to some specializing in that area and becoming more adept at treating them?

The right balanc

1:15PM PDT on Jun 17, 2011

Thank you.

9:56PM PDT on Jun 13, 2011

I think that if a doctor makes a mistake,that is considered malpractice, that is detrimental to someones life or wellbeing then the patient should be able to sue but if it was unavoidable and no-ones fault then the patient shouldn't be able to sue.

12:24PM PDT on Jun 13, 2011

Not everyone gets fat by eating too much. diabled people in wheelchairs become big as they cannot exercise. Docs should understand that, i think.

11:12AM PDT on Jun 13, 2011

I understand both sides and I think there's a real need for change.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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