Dr. Terry Bennett says he tells obese patients their weight is bad for their health and their love lives, but the lecture drove one patient to complain to the state.
"I told a fat woman she was obese," Bennett says. "I tried to get her attention. I told her, 'You need to get on a program, join a group of like-minded people and peel off the weight that is going to kill you.'" . . .
[The woman's] complaint, filed about a year ago, was initially investigated by a panel of the New Hampshire Board of Medicine, which recommended that Bennett be sent a confidential letter of concern. The board rejected the suggestion in December and asked the attorney general's office to investigate. . . .
"Physicians have to be professional with patients and remember everyone is an individual. You should not be inflammatory or degrading to anyone," said board member Kevin Costin. . . .
It's hard from the article to figure out exactly what the woman is complaining about; it may well be that Dr. Bennett said something harsher than what he's quoted as saying. (The complaints and other materials are apparently confidential, though if anyone has any more data on this, I'd love to hear it.) Still, if the account is correct, it's pretty troubling. And, more broadly, do we really need government regulation to keep doctors from being mean to their patients? (For a sense of the First Amendment issues raised by such regulations, by the way, see this post.)
UPDATE: Another article reports that Bennett "has 'an obesity lecture for women' that is a stark litany designed to get the attention of obese female patients. He said he tells obese women they most likely will outlive an obese spouse and will have a difficult time establishing a new relationship because studies show most males are completely negative to obese women." I can see how that would get some people upset, though I also see why the doctor might figure that this is the one way to get to people who haven't listened to his other advice. And it still seems to me that this isn't something the state medical board needs to be regulating.