Can doctors really refuse to treat women on the heavier side? Well in South Florida, it seems some obstetrics-gynecology practices are doing just that.

A new survey by the Sun Sentinal found fifteen obstetrics-gynecology practices out of 105 polled had “weight caps” or cut-off measurements for new patients. The practice’s rules sought to keep away women who were heavier from being treated by either implementing 200 pounds as the benchmark for new patients or with varying measurements of obesity, sometimes BMI.

While the “weight caps” are have gotten an immense amount of backlash from women’s health groups, many of the ob-gyns who admitted to using them have been unwavering in their defense. Some in the field said the policy was because “their exam tables or other equipment can’t handle people over a certain weight.” But the main reason given in support of the cut-off rules is that heavier patients are a liability.

One of the doctor’s interviewed by the Sun was Dr. Albert Triana, whose practice is located in South Miami.

“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].”

Or as one office manager bluntly said of the ob-gyns in his practice:

“This is not a high-risk practice. They are not experts in obesity.”

Thankfully, the cut-off rules are not the norm. Dr. Maureen Whelihan, a West Palm Beach ob-gyn said:

“We never turn down anyone. We would see them, and if we had to, we would refer them to a specialist.”

The entire issue is incredibly disturbing as the policy could keep many women from getting care at a practice of their choice. However, as the medical associations on the local, state and national level respond to the “weight caps”, one has to wonder if anything will truly be done. Though refusing to treat an obese person without other medical reason is frowned upon, private practices are free to take the patients they choose. But are these ob-gyn practices using discretion or are they practicing discrimination?

What do you think of the “weight cap” policy- is it discriminatory or at the doctor’s discretion? Would you stick with your ob-gyn if they refused to take on heavy women as new patients? Share your thoughts, Clutchettes!

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  • Used to do

    Take some foundation courses in health services administration and you will understand the reasoning of the practices. Things are not that clear cut – black and white.

  • Carmella

    This is a rediculous thing. First, I do believe that physicians have a right to select their patients but I would hope that people who are current patients would look at the scruples of these physicians and say is this the person that I want to trust the health of myself or my baby to. Will the next thing be that a 110 pound person with family history of problems or with gestational diabetes be turned away. If you want to practice that kind of medicine perhaps you should be a concierge doctor. Secondly as a director of a Radiology department, I can tell you that I have never seen a table that would not hold more that 200 pounds. It is much more common that they will not hold more that 300 pounds and we have also purchased tables that hold 500 pounds.

    I am sorry that there have been many women who have made to feel less that their lighter counterparts.

  • Mindy

    It’s blatant discrimination, overweight women are just as entitled to medical care as women who’ve smoked who are also higher risk in pregnancy and are at higher risk for various other diseases, etc.