Physicians Cite Reasons for Refusing to See Overweight Patients

September 7, 2012 | Strategic Insights for Ambulatory Care


Following a trend of clinicians who are refusing new patients because of their health or for nonmedical reasons, one Massachusetts primary care physician has adopted a policy stating that the office will not accept new patients whose weight is over a certain limit, states an August 27, 2012, Huffington Post article. A prospective patient was shocked to learn of the policy when she was turned away from the facility on the grounds that she weighed more than 200 pounds. “After three consecutive injuries (with other patients) trying to care for people over 250 pounds, my office is unable to accommodate a certain weight and we put a limit on it,” said the physician, who noted that there are local facilities that are better prepared to care for overweight patients. “She didn’t care about my health that day,” the patient told WCVB (Boston) in an interview, adding, “I think she just cared that I was a liability to her maybe and too much work.” While the physician is within her rights to be selective in who she treats, the use of restrictive policies based on weight limits raises ethical questions about whether such a policy could harm patients or relationships with patients in the long term. Last year, several obstetrician/gynecologists (OB/GYN) refused to see obese patients on the grounds that they did not have appropriate equipment to care for obese patients.

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