Doctors failing obese patients

Here's breaking news: Doctors are responsible for America's obesity epidemic. Did you know that? Well that's what the press in this country want you to believe. Here's the latest example. (image credit)

According to a study involving almost 10000 patients at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, only 20% of study subjects had their obesity formally documented. However, if this condition was documented, then patients were more likely to be given a treatment plan which included exercise and diet instructions. (Reuters)

Not surprisingly, [the principal investigator] noted, study patients who were severely obese were more likely to have a diagnosis and a treatment plan -- suggesting that doctors need to take a closer look at patients with less severe weight problems.
I have a few of problems with this. First, I never knew that I was responsible for the obesity epidemic continuing. Those of you conspiracy theory people out there probably even believe that docs are intentionally not treating obesity because it would decrease business for medicine. How ridiculous is that?

Second, this article appears to want doctors to label their patients as obese so that they can get the proper treatment. No one likes to be labeled. In fact, if I even hint at the word obesity with my patients, I know that they would leave my practice. Labeling is a big no-no - whether it's obesity, mental illness, or any other term with a negative perception.

Third, even if I give my patient a very specific treatment plan, am I responsible for them to follow it? Well, according to the concept of pay-for-performance, physician accountability is more important than patient accountability - meaning if the patient does not lose the weight, it is my fault and it will hit my pocketbook. I know you doctor haters out there don't care about this. But, I have an office full of staff and I care how much this would affect them.

So, now that I'm done rambling, this article is just part of my continuing frustration with the press in this country. Not that I care, but articles like this create a false perception. Perception is reality to some people. And, it is this false reality that makes it difficult for me to deliver adequate health care to my patients.