Poll: Should Doctors Turn Away Obese Patients?

  • Comments (11)
A doctor has refused to see a Shrewsbury woman because of the woman's weight.
A doctor has refused to see a Shrewsbury woman because of the woman's weight.

SHREWSBURY, Mass. — A Shrewsbury woman has been making waves since she made public complaints that, because of her weight, a doctor refused to see her. Ida Davidson's story has appeared in the national news media. 

Reader Results

Is it ethical for a doctor to turn away a patient because of the patient’s weight?

  • Yes

  • No

  • Undecided


Dr. Helen Carter, who practices at UMassMemorial Medical Center, reportedly has instituted a policy of turning away patients weighing more than 200 pounds because of injuries to three staff members while treating patients weighing more than 250 pounds. See the CNN clip here.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one-third of adults in the United States are obese. In Massachusetts, the number is about 22 percent.

While Carter's policy is not illegal, we want to know what you think about a doctor turning away patients because of their weight? Did Carter make a tough but responsible decision? Is the policy unecessarily discriminatory? Leave your comments below and take our poll.

  • 11

Comments (11)

Turn them away? Are you serious?
So doctors should only tend to young healthy people then. Is that what they"re implying?

I have no problem admitting that I AM an obese patient. If I were turned away simply because of my weight, I would make sure the DR in question were reported to the licensing board. "First do no harm"...does psycological harm count in that? I believe it does! If a doctor can choose what patients to see and not to see, whats to stop them from suddenly deciding not to treat someone with a specific condition because it would take more time to treat that person? Its unnerving to know that even a small percentage of people agree with the doctors policy, though unfortunatly I am not surprised!

I understand the policy, given the circumstances. But it sounds like medical professionals need to think about better, safer ways to handle obese patients. Until we solve the problem of obesity (and we should continue serious efforts to do so), we have to deal with it. Imagine a doctor turning away someone with cancer or depression or diabetes?

While 22% is still too high, I am happy to see MA below the national average.

The "doctor" should have her license to practice medicine revoked.

[ Thought police ]

they should treat them....they would make a lot more money treating the obese than the thin people.

How can a physician working for a hospital create policy? Isn't the hospital administration responsible for that?

When did the church and state separate?
Wasnt it the king that told Mozart he had to many notes in his opera?

With all the technology we have in the medical field, there has to be a way to overcome any hurdles limiting the care of the obese.

The doctor should hire some people who can lift over 50 lbs.