America is fat. We've all heard the statistics. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 34 percent of adults age 20 years and older were considered obese in 2007-2008, and this number is only increasing. But, aside from the frequently reported health concerns associated with obesity, a new problem has developed. Obese women are starting to be turned away from obstetrics-gynecology practices.
According to the Sun Sentinel, fifteen of the 105 polled ob-gyn practices in southern Florida admit they have turned women away for being too heavy. Some doctors have set weight cut-offs, such as 200 pounds, or decided not see women based on obesity measures.
When asked for an reason, many of the doctors explained their equipment and tables cannot handle the weight of some patients. Some doctors however, have admitted that they have rejected patients due to fear of the higher risk of complications.
One physician whose practice turns away patients categorized as obese argues, "there's more risk of something going wrong and more risk of getting sued. Everything is more complicated with an obese patient."
While not accepting patients based on weight is not illegal, many doctors, advocates and citizens have spoken out angrily against this practice. They stress the fact that a heavy patient with no other health issues is really no different than a lighter patient. Many believe that turning overweight patients away is not in accord with the medical profession. Dr. Maureen Whelihan, a West Palm Beach ob-gyn, says, "We never turn down anyone. We would see them, and if we had to, we would refer them to a specialist."