No service, no payment

I was reminded of all the grave medical errors committed in the name of fat prejudice upon reading this story, “Who foots the bill for medical mistakes?

Spurred by federal and industry moves to cut payments for avoidable mistakes, hospitals across the country have joined a growing movement not to charge patients or their insurers for serious, preventable errors.

Since last fall, hospitals in 10 states have agreed to waive fees for certain rare errors dubbed “never events” because safety experts say they should never happen at all.

Still, that leaves 40 states — including Iowa — where patients can expect that they, or their insurance providers, still may be billed for errors that one association leader called “no-brainers.”

The National Quality Forum has identified 28 such events, and while its highly unlikely that fat-based discrimination is among them, as the reader-submitted horror stories on this site reveal, it ought be.

I’m specifically thinking of patients like Emily, whose doctor told her she needed to just “shut her mouth every once in a while” when in actuality, she had either PCOS or a tumor on one of her glands.

Or people like Katydid, whose eating disorder became so serious she vomited blood, but because of her weight, was encouraged to lose even more weight and to try Weight Watchers – the bloody vomit issue was never addressed.

I also think of people like Kate, whose doctor dismissed her excruciating abdominal pain and said it would be magically cured by weight loss. It’s a good thing Kate sought out a second opinion, because as it turns out, she had a potentially cancerous tumor which, because of the time lapse caused by the original doctor’s incompetence, required the removal of one of her ovaries and fallopian tube.

And there’s Christina, who went to the emergency room for appendicitis, and was advised to try Weight Watchers.

I could go on and on but you get the idea. In each case, all women were billed for medical “care” that was anything but responsible, competent and ethical care. In fact, they have a word for the type of care these women received: malpractice.

Health care is a service industry; if we do not get the service we ask for and require, we should not be expected to foot the bill.

Weight- and health-related discrimination survey

Deb Esty, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Baldwin-Wallace College, is conducting an anonymous online survey on discrimination related to weight and health.

The purpose of this study is to devise a measure of weight discrimination experiences, and it is our hope that we will be able to have over 500 people participate. If the measure if validated, it could be used in a similar manner to other measures of discrimination experiences, such as examining the relation of such experiences to physical and mental health.

If you’re interested in participating, the online survey can be found here.

For more information, call Dr. Esty at (440) 826-2094 or email her at