DETROIT (WWJ) – Should doctors be able to turn away patients who are too fat?
A new poll shows that 15-percent of OB-GYN doctors in South Florida now turn away women who are obese, over fears of malpractice suits and complications.
While Beaumont OB-GYN Dr. April Sarvis has never turned away a patient, she does not think it’s unethical.
“Can I say it’s unethical? No. I think it’s unfortunate. They’ve probably, most of them already burnt by the system, if you will,” Sarvis said.
“If I had to bet, I’m going to guess they are some of your older doctors who have been there, done that. They like practicing, they like what they do, but they don’t feel like continuing to open up that much liability,” the Doctor continued.
According to Dr. Sarvis, very overweight women often require a higher amount of care and services from their doctors and have a much greater risk of complications.
Doctors can even require special exam tables and surgical instruments to perform c-sections on obese women.
“If you’re going through nine inches of fat to get to the uterus, yeah. You’ve got to think about all that weight you have to get up and out of the way,” Sarvis said.
“Anesthetic is a big deal too. You definitely want to hope that your anesthesiologist can do a spinal. You don’t, ideally, ever want to be operating on these patients in an emergency situation, because you’re at risk for mom and baby both,” the Doctor continued.
Although treating obese patients may require extra instruments, Dr. Sarvis said the issue really comes down to money.
“The insurance tells you how much you’re going to get paid. It’s one fee no matter how much you do,” Sarvis said. “Basically, every time you turn around, they are taking more and more away from you. And they’re writing more rules, you feel like your hands are tied.”
Sarvis warns obese women to weigh the risks before trying for a baby.