Doctor refuses to treat woman because of her weight

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

SHREWSBURY, Mass. -- A woman in Massachusetts says she needs a new doctor because her doctor told her she is too fat to be treated.

She said the doctor has a policy of not seeing patients who weigh more than 200 pounds because they are a danger to the staff.

Ida Davidson said she was stunned when on a second visit to a new primary doctor she was informed they didn't want her as a patient -- because of her weight.

"She was telling me that she couldn't care for me because I was over 200 pounds," said Davidson. "I mean, I've never heard anything like that, I thought doctors were there to help you."

It doesn't happen often and it's not illegal. In fact, the American Medical Association says it is ethical for a doctor to refuse to treat an obese patient.

The AMA's position is that patients and doctors can "Exercise freedom in choosing with whom to enter into a patient physician relationship."

"For people who are established patients they're grandfathered in so it doesn't apply to them, but I've had at least 2 people be very motivated," said Dr. Helen Carter.

Dr. Carter said she began screening out overweight patients in the spring after some people on her staff were injured.

She spends time educating patients about obesity which she said is best treated elsewhere.

"There are alternatives. There's an obesity center at UMASS better staffed and has more resources than I do."

The Centers for Disease Control says one-third of all American adults are obese.

Ida Davidson says it's not just her weight that is a concern.

"She didn't care about my health that day, I just think she cared that I was a liability to her maybe and too much work."