Dr Manny's Notes

Docs Turning Away Obese Women, But I'll Take Them

Dr. Manny Alvarez

Dr. Manny Alvarez

Reports have emerged from South Florida that a select few OBGYN doctors are refusing to see otherwise healthy women because they are overweight.

Fifteen OBGYN doctors out of over 105 surveyed have put into place so-called “weight cut-offs” at their practices, and turn away new patients who weigh over 200 pounds or are fit the criteria for obesity.

Some of the doctors said the main reason for the cut-offs is that their exam tables and other equipment are unable to handle people over a certain weight. However, others said they are simply trying to avoid the added complications that obese people are at higher risk for developing.

While it is true that certain obese-related health issues, such as diabetes and other heart problems, can complicate pregnancies, I have an ethical problem with the barriers these doctors are putting into place.

The fact is, 93 million people in the United States are obese. Many of them are women, and a significant proportion of them are pregnant.

And you know what? Obese pregnant women need medical care just the same as all other pregnant women.

Oftentimes, the women don’t even present any complications, especially if they are otherwise healthy. This means there is no need to direct them to a specialist.

While it is well within a doctor’s right to turn away a patient – as long as it isn’t on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation or infectious diseases – I would strongly discourage my fellow peers from following the example these OBGYNs have set.

I do want to advise women, however: If you have a weight problem, and you do want to get pregnant, it may be in your best interest to see a high-risk obstetrician for a pre-pregnancy interview. And if they won’t take you – you can call my office at any time.

Dr. Manny Alvarez serves as Fox News Channel's senior managing health editor. He also serves as chairman of the department of obstetrics/gynecology and reproductive science at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. For more information on Dr. Manny's work, visit AskDrManny.com.