According to research, Oklahoma doctors who fat shame their patients could actually be causing them both mental and physical harm. The findings suggest that medical fat shaming and disrespectful treatment could prevent a person from seeking medical care when he or she needs it in order to avoid interacting with the providers.
Researchers from Connecticut College analyzed multiple past studies that examined obesity and doctor bias. Additionally, they took patients' reports of disrespectful treatment and fat shaming into account. They found that not only did the act of medical fat shaming cause the patients to lose trust in their providers, it also had a significant negative impact on their health. Patients who refuse to seek treatment due to fat shaming experiences could experience worsening symptoms and potentially even life-threatening conditions.
One major problem is that some doctors attribute symptoms to the person's weight. As such, the doctor might tell an overweight patient to lose weight while that same doctor might order tests and blood work for patients who are of average weight. This bias can lead to misdiagnoses. It was noted by the researchers that recommending different treatment for the same symptoms based on a patient's weight is unethical and could be considered a form of malpractice.
When patients are seeking treatment for medical conditions, they deserve to have their concerns taken seriously and be treated by providers with respect. If doctor bias leads to a worsened medical condition, there is a possibility that the harmed patient could be the victim of medical malpractice. People who have been treated in such a manner might want to discuss their situations with an experienced attorney.