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August 25, 2005
Idiot Alert

Take a look at this:

Woman complains about doctor's advice to lose weight

ROCHESTER, N.H. --A Rochester physician says he's outraged at being called on the carpet for telling a patient she was obese and needed to lose weight.

Dr. Terry Bennett says the complaint that she was insulted by his advice is baseless.

"It's an epidemic in the United States, and it's croaking us," Bennett said.

It's a lecture he said he gives to many of his overweight patients.

"It's your weight ... and there's dozens of programs," Bennett said. "You don't have to come here and be my acolyte. You can join Jenny Craig. You can go see Weight Watchers."

Bennett said he tells obese patients their weight is bad for their health and their love lives. But the lecture drove one patient to write a letter to the Board of Registration in Medicine, which passed it on to the attorney general's office

Doctors tell you what you need to hear, whether you want to hear it or not and this woman's in some serious denial if she thinks filing a complaint is going to change her health risks.

It's about as smart as me filing a complaint about my doctor telling me to quit smoking, wouldn't you say? Quitting smoking or not quitting smoking is my personal choice, but it's my doctor's duty to point out the health risks to me.

Posted by AnneZook at 11:25 AM


Comments

Actually, this is a little bit more complex. Unfortunately, the link is to Protien Wisdom, but... So I'll just quote the comment here

Umm, it’s only unbelievable because it isn’t the whole story.
By the doctor’s own admission he made personal remarks beyond the medical consequences of being overweight, which is where his right to scare and advise ended. These included making an unsolicited prediciton about the mortality of her spouse and her prospects for remarriage and her sexual attractiveness to other men.
She wasn’t complaining about being told she was fat and needed a lifestyle change to improve and protect her health. She was complaining because the doc (in thelight most favorable to him) crossed a line of propriety trying to get her to see the light…
Docs have no right to bully berate or deamean patients, even those whose conditions frustrate them, and this patient felt bulllied.
I suspect, based on the docs own admitted arrogant and improper remarks, that he may have been otherwise unprofessionally rude to his patient.
She has a follow up comment here as well.

Posted by: Hal at August 26, 2005 11:53 AM

I think it's the height of irresponsibility for doctors to automatically assume patients are unhealthy if they're fat, and healthy if they're thin. If you're going to lecture about health, lecture the fat AND thin patients alike. Fat does NOT always equal unhealthy! There are a lot of fat and fit people. I used to be one of them.

Posted by: Elayne Riggs at August 27, 2005 07:31 PM

I keep coming back to this story (not least because the NPR quiz show cited it, without any context, which was irresponsible) and thinking about the question of where the lines are. "Doctors have no right to bully or demean patients" is easy to say, but as a professional myself, part of whose job is evaluating often-poor performance, I have to wonder about how we draw those lines. Is it OK to say: "you failed on this assignment. By the way, people in business do this all the time, so if you don't learn how to do this you're not going to do well in the real world?"

Posted by: Jonathan Dresner at August 28, 2005 05:02 AM