Apparently the truth offends


Category : General, Medical Rants

I am reminded of a Rodney Dangerfield joke.

“I went to see my doctor. He told me I was fat. I told him I wanted a second opinion. He said, ok, you are ugly too.”

Apparently being told you are obese is offensive – Doctor in trouble for calling patient obese

I am sorry but I cannot understand this story. Obesity is a well defined condition. It responds to weight loss. How can this possibly have caused a stir?

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Comments (7)

Perhaps you have hit the nail on the head with your Rodney Dangerfield joke. Maybe the offensive part was not being told that she was fat, but that she was offensive to look at (and how that was said). I really appreciate your curiosity about this rather than immediate contempt for this woman that I am reading everywhere else I have seen this story discussed. I, too, am curious as to what exactly was said. As far as obesity responding to weight loss, the vast majority of obese people find it impossible to maintain weight loss no matter how motivated they are.

This one article embodies much of what is wrong with society today. As physicians (and/or future ones) — heck! as laity — we know that obesity is not good for your health. Unfortunately, people are too quick to NOT take responsibility. Worse, people want retribution for hurt feelings, even if sound medical advice.

Even worse, physicians (I presume) on the medical board taking this complaint seriously.

I don’t want to hear any more complaints about lawyers.

In response to Cici, the article states that he told a fat woman “she was obese.” He also states that he told her, “You need to get on a program, join a group of like-minded people and peel off the weight that is going to kill you.” In fact, the article also notes that “Other overweight patients have come to Bennett’s defense.”

So far, that does not sound REMOTELY outrageous. Not that physicians can’t be rude, I just happen to know a lot more patients than doctors that qualify.

But for one second, let’s just assume that he told her straight up, “You’re fat.” Does something like this really merit a referral to the State Attorney General’s office? Seriously, is hurting someone’s feelings in an effort to prevent mortality/morbidity an actionable offense these days?

If telling someone that they are overweight (or even “fat” for that matter) is what now passes as unprofessional conduct warranting prosecution by local/state law enforcement: (1) I have several attendings I should have been ratting out to law enforcement long ago; and, (2) this profession has much bigger issues than malpractice reform.

According to this article, which was the first I saw on the matter several days ago:

“He said he tells obese women they most likely will outlive an obese spouse and will have a difficult time establishing a new relationship because studies show most males are completely negative to obese women.”

Pretty rude, to me. Of course, that doesn’t excuse her reaction, which was overwrought to say the least. I can say, though, that I’d never go back to a doctor who chose that approach to encourage me to lose weight. I understand that a lot of people think that *I’m* overwrought for saying that, but I don’t want commentary on my romantic prospects from my doc, even if I’m not doing well with the weight loss thing. I look in the mirror every morning. I know what I look like and how people are likely to respond. I’d find it really humiliating to be spoken to like that. I assume that was the effect he was going for, to scare her or shock her somehow into weight loss. Well intentioned, perhaps, but bound to backfire with some people.

That does not, of course, excuse the way that she chose to handle her unhappiness. I find both sides of this story rather strange, really, as the presumed motivations make some sense to me but the way both parties chose to express themselves makes none at all.

“but I don’t want commentary on my romantic prospects from my doc, even if I’m not doing well with the weight loss thing.’

It seems from the story that he was giving her information based on a study and not, (as some responders here and on KevinMD’s blog posting have said) simply opining about her remarriage prospects off the top of his head. She apparently didn’t want to hear that. But instead of just finding a doctor who pleased her more (or didn’t care about her weight), she sought a peevish kind of revenge. So she is not only obese, she is also apparently spiteful.

I can’t decide who is worse, the patient or the ridiculously spineless New Hampshire Board of Medicine. Unless there is more to this story than is reported, I can’t seen any actionable misconduct. Why can’t the NH BOM just kick it out? And then to have a state attorney take the case? What are they smoking? It would serve this patient right to be told not by a doctor but by a judge that she was fat and nasty and to get out of his courtroom.

In response to Deb, I merely query, “So what?”

Can I not tell a male patient that his obesity is likely to ruin his sex life? We all know now that obese males are far more likely to be impotent over time. This is completely absurd.

The fat lady — er, I mean obese woman — should have simply changed doctors and told others she didn’t like him. I am surprised she hasn’t taken him to court for intentional infliction of emotional distress. I mean, this surely is worth $250,000, right? (Tongue-in-cheek)

Like I said before: What in Hades is the Board of Medical examiners thinking?

Seems your damned if you do, damned if you don’t in the healthcare field.

I recall a story about a wife of an obese man who sued a physician’s practice because they had never informed her husband that his obesity was life-threatening (apparently, he suffered a fatal heart attack)

Then you have patients who sue their doctor’s for the ‘offense’ of telling them they’re fat.

Yes, there are sensitive and insensitive ways of broaching the topic, but I don’t see any other situations where a physician gets sued for having a lousy bedside manner.

You can choose not to use that doctor’s services.

But a lawsuit?

America is sick.

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