Florida Ob-Gyns Turning Away Overweight Women

Filed under: In The News, Health

overweight women

Some obstetricians are refusing to see women who are obese. Credit: Getty Images

The modern Hippocratic Oath states in part:

"I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm. But no fat chicks. Man, I hate fat chicks."

So, no, the stuff about fat chicks is not an official part of the oath. However, the Florida Sun-Sentinel reports some obstetricians might want to add it in: They are refusing to take in women who are, shall we say, horizontally challenged.

The docs claim it's because certain exam tables and other equipment allegedly can't handle women who weigh more than 200 pounds, according to the newspaper. Physicians say the women could hurt themselves, or worse, file a lawsuit.

A total of 15 out of the 105 ob-gyns polled by the Sun Sentinel set weight limits and refuse to see women who threaten to put the "Hippo" in Hippocratic Oath.

"People don't realize the risk we're taking by taking care of these patients," Albert Triana, who has two ob-gyn practices in South Miami, tells the Sun-Sentinel. "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]."

Ob-gyn partners Jeffrey Solomon and Isabel Otero-Echandi similarly turn away women who tip the scale at 250 pounds or more. Their office manager, who asked not to be named, tells the newspaper the doctors don't want to end up sending overweight women to specialists.

"This is not a high-risk practice," the office manager tells the Sun-Sentinel. "They are not experts in obesity."

Some doctors and medical ethicists, however, worry about what Hippocrates would think of all this.

"If I had that policy, I wouldn't have a practice. I'd lose half my patients," Maureen Whelihan, a West Palm Beach, ob-gyn, tells the newspaper. "We never turn down anyone. We would see them, and if we had to, we would refer them to a specialist."

Leaders of eight local, state and national medical associations tell the Sun-Sentinel they have never heard of doctors turning away patients just because of weight. Several said fat people with no other health issues do not need special treatment.

"No doctor should be unable to treat patients just because they are heavy," Bruce Zafran, a Coral Springs, ob-gyn, tells the newspaper.

A spokesman for the Obesity Action Coalition in Tampa tells the Sun-Sentinel weight restrictions smack of discrimination.

"This completely goes against the principles of being a doctor," James Zervios tells the newspaper. "Health care professionals are there to help individuals improve their quality of health, not stigmatize them according to their weight."

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