Doctors are humans, which means that they make mistakes. They also have prejudices and personal opinions that can impact the quality of care patients receive. While codes of ethics at most hospitals preclude a doctor from refusing to treat patients because of the color of their skin or religion, those who are obese or extremely obese may face overt discrimination.
Many people who are overweight or obese have experienced a doctor ignoring serious symptoms. Instead of exploring other potential causes, doctors biased against overweight patients may assume that everything from irregular heartbeats to serious pain is simply a result of the patient being overweight. That can result in a failure to diagnose serious issues, such as potential heart failure, cancer and a host of other potentially life-threatening conditions.
Doctors may fail to adequately examine overweight patients
There are a number of serious medical conditions that get associated with obesity and being overweight. While at least a third of Americans are obese, doctors still sometimes take issue with providing adequate medical care to those with weight issues. Despite the growing number of overweight adults, many doctors are reluctant to properly treat obese patients. This can impact both the quality of life for overweight people as well as their life expectancy if serious medical issues go undiagnosed.
A doctor could overlook conditions that could have lifelong, even fatal consequences. Instead of fully examining a patient and reviewing medical records, doctors may simply chalk any and all symptoms up to side effects of carrying extra weight. Some doctors refuse to physically touch and inspect overweight patients, telling them instead to lose weight if they want to feel better. Others, like surgeons, may refuse to perform necessary procedures until patients have lost large amounts of weight.
Being overweight shouldn’t impact your standard of care
Some doctors’ offices and hospitals don’t even have adequate equipment to work with very overweight patients. Their scales may not go high enough to accurately measure weight. Critical diagnostic equipment, like MRI machines, may not be large enough to accommodate overweight patients. The drugs they prescribe were likely formulated based on a much lower weight, resulting in inadequate doses for overweight patients.
Just because you are overweight does not excuse your doctor from failing to take your issues seriously. You deserve to have a real answer for the cause of your pain. What your doctor may ascribe to weight-related issues could be cancer, autoimmune issues or a host of other serious and potentially deadly medical problems. If your doctor failed to examine and diagnose you because of your weight, you should take whatever steps necessary to receive the medical care you need and hold the negligent doctor responsible for any damage caused.