Fla. Doctors Refusing Fat Women OB/GYN Care

Fight disinformation. Get a daily recap of the facts that matter. Sign up for the free Mother Jones newsletter.


A recent survey by the Florida Sun-Sentinel found that 15 of 105 OB/GYN practices in South Florida refuse to take on new patients who are overweight. Some practices limited new patients by weight (200lbs and heavier, for example) or by BMI score. Reasons cited included equipment that couldn’t handle the weight of obese or overweight patients, increased risk of birth complications, the high cost of malpractice insurance, and a fear that the patient would eventually have to be referred to a specialist anyway. “People don’t realize the risk we’re taking by taking care of these patients,” Dr. Albert Triana told the Sun-Sentinel. Triana’s firm declines obese 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].”

There’s some truth in the doctors’ concerns. Rising obesity rates have been blamed for contributing to the US’s rising maternal mortality rate. Part of this could be because obese women are more likely to have a Caesarian section, which carries with it all the risks that would accompany another major operation such as infection and hemorrhage. In addition, medical malpractice insurance is very expensive, which is why more C-sections are performed in the first place: they avoid potential damage to the baby associated with vaginal birth that doctors could later be sued for. In fact, the C-section rate for some South Florida doctors is 70%, much higher than the US national average of around 30%. 

That said, it’s a doctor’s duty to provide health care, regardless of the health of the individual. Some of the practices surveyed said that they wouldn’t take one patients who were overweight, even if they were healthy. Unfortunately, the practice of weight discrimination is legal, and doctors’ poor treatment of obese or overweight patients is not a new thing. One study from Temple University found that more than half of doctors found obese patients “ugly” and “noncompliant” and more than a third characterized them as “weak-willed” and “lazy.” The larger the patient, the more doctors disliked them. “Obesity lives in a politically correct free zone and is the last … prejudice openly accepted by society,” Dr. Joseph Madjan of Boulder, Colorado, told a local paper. Madjan should know: he was once overweight himself and was teased often for it… by his fellow doctors.

HERE ARE THE FACTS:

Our fall fundraising drive is off to a rough start, and we very much need to raise $250,000 in the next couple of weeks. If you value the journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us do it with a donation today.

As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

payment methods

ONE MORE QUICK THING:

Our fall fundraising drive is off to a rough start, and we very much need to raise $250,000 in the next couple of weeks. If you value the journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us do it with a donation today.

As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate