Friday, March 18, 2005

Students Warned of Lawsuits for Failing to Tell Patients That They Are Fat

From the Washington Times, trial lawyer and George Washington University Professor John Banzhaf III warned students attending the American Medical Student Association meeting that they could be sued if they fail to tell their obese patients that they obese, or do not advise "appropriate treatments or behavioral programs" (apparently regardless of the data that currently available weight loss programs and treatments are rarely very effective.)
Banzhaff also said "unfortunately, one of the ways to make serious changes in society is through a lawsuit." Whether such changes would be good or bad is another question. And how much money lawyers might earn from such lawsuits, given the prevalence of obesity, is another.
Now all we need is to find out that someone has sued a physician for low self-esteem after being informed he was fat ;-) Actually, that's not funny at all.
But this is just another nearly ludicrous example of how physicians and patients can be caught in the cross-fire among powerful forces that may really not have the patients' or physicians' best interests at heart.

1 comment:

InformaticsMD said...

And yet we have websites like http://www.cat-and-dragon.com/stef/fat/nesbitt.html ("How to Choose a Fat-friendly Doctor and other Medical Suggestions").

Having been both thin and fat myself, depending on my relative stress levels, and having been recipient of acknowledged discriminatory behavior FROM OTHER PHYSICIANS when I was much overweight in my internship, I'd say medicine is quite a bot schizophrenic in this area.

However, as far as telling patients that they are obese and advising interventions, I'd say that one should at least expect patients to be masters of the obvious.