Have You Ever Turned Down a Patient?

May 18, 2011

Would you turn an obese woman away from your practice? While it may seem unethical to most, Florida's Sun Sentinel has polled 105 ob/gyn practices to ask if they have set an established "weight cut-off" for new patients - 15 said they have.

Would you turn an obese woman away from your practice?

While it may seem unethical to most, Florida's Sun Sentinel polled 105 ob/gyn practices on whether they have established a "weight cut-off" for new patients - 15 said they have.

Among the reasons the physicians cited for the policy were lack of examination tables and other equipment to support people over a certain weight and the higher risk complications associated with obesity. One doctor noted, "People don't realize the risk we're taking by taking care of these patients. . . . 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]."

While most physician groups and ethical leaders would say setting a weight cut-off policy goes against the grain of medical practice, is there ever an instance when turning away patients based on a preexisting condition is acceptable?

Have you ever turned down a patient, or do you have established policies on the preexisting conditions your practice must turn away or refer elsewhere? Share your opinion in our comments section below, or email us if you prefer to remain anonymous.