Weighing in on Doctor Refusing 200 Pound Patients

As I turned on the morning news the other day, the attention grabbing “teaser” headliner was about a physician in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts who refused to treat anyone weighing more than 200 pounds (link below). If you haven’t heard it, the recap is that an internal medicine physician has decided to reject all new patients weighing over 200 pounds. She indicates that her staff has been “hurt” by handling these heavier people (not sure what she means by this), and that those patients already in her practice and weighing 200 pounds were grandfathered in. She  notes that some of these grandfathered patients proceeded to lose weight after her office policy was implemented. The physician further states that there is an excellent university affiliated medical facility nearby which is better suited for treating patients.

This scenario seems to beg the question, “is this a new trend in the medical profession?”  Will the United States evolve to medically managed weight loss centers for all people classified as obese?

Who should take responsibility?

Mayor Bloomberg restricts soda pop. Michelle Obama encourages us to plant vegetable gardens. But what can individuals and society really do to take responsibility? This will become even more pressing of a concern to individuals if primary care physicians begin to refuse treating heavier patients on a wider scale. If those heavier people are required to find access to health care in settings equipped to handle their special needs, this could also potentially handicap the weight loss process even more-if possible.

Failing at weight management

Right now, we are clearly failing in managing our weight as a nation. We did not come to this point because of one problem. As a society, we are not inclined to move. For safety reasons, we may stay inside (dodging bullets). We sit in front of computers all day, play video games rather than dodge ball, and we eat out constantly. While eating out is a great treat, doing so too often really insures your energy intake is too high which translates to weight gain. Unless you are training for a marathon or triathlon, you still need to critically manage your energy intake if you are going to manage your weight. All too often, those that workout regularly still forget the energy content (meaning calories) of the food they consume. So, again, what are some solutions?

What’s the societal solution?

I do not have a simple solution because there is not necessarily a simple solution to a laundry list of factors causing this national crisis. Our current societal complexities seem to set us up for obesity at this point. Both physicians and patients need to take responsibility for slimming down the nation.

Apparently, it is perfectly legal for this physician to screen her patients according to weight limits. If this is her prerogative (and it’s her practice), she should make a point of offering some other options. While she was relying on a nearby medical facility affiliated with a teaching hospital, she and other physicians have other options. How about business cards of dietitians, therapists, and trainers and refering to those professionals! And, patients need to take responsibility as well. There is no magic solution here. The message to move more and eat less is perceived as “boring” by many. And to many, this simple message is not really simple.  After all, how much should one really eat and move in order to both prevent and manage obesity?

What can we do as a nation? Please provide input to this question directly on my blog.  I look forward to your comments.

A bit more on this story.

 

 

3 thoughts on “Weighing in on Doctor Refusing 200 Pound Patients

  1. Wow! It is her/his practice and I guess they can make the rules. But what about the body builder, the very tall person, well defined athelete that is 200 pounds or over is that person to turned away? Why not have more resources than just the medical campus down the street? I have many mixed emotions about this article!

  2. Personally I think this is a reckless way to go about sending a message to our obese nation. It seems this doctor forgot why she became a doctor in the first place. As someone who weighed 303.5 pounds just 19 weeks ago I’m so very thankful that my doctor did not take that approach. Obesity is such a large problem in this country how could any physician who truly cares about people and their health turn anyone away? Appalling!

    I want doctors who embrace this very challenging crisis because it’s those doctors that have the heart and the passion to transform our obesogenic society into a society that is healthy and strong.

    My wife and I have lost a combined total of 110 pounds and we have dedicated the rest of our lives to being a part of the solution to this epidemic. I feel better than I ever have and I still have 50 pounds to lose! I’m no longer a slave to my own body. Thankfully this was not my doctor. 🙂

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