Woman complains about doctor's advice to lose weight
August 23, 2005
ROCHESTER, N.H. --A Rochester physician says he's outraged at being called on the carpet for telling a patient she was obese and needed to lose weight.
Dr. Terry Bennett says the complaint that she was insulted by his advice is baseless.
"It's an epidemic in the United States, and it's croaking us," Bennett said.
It's a lecture he said he gives to many of his overweight patients.
"It's your weight ... and there's dozens of programs," Bennett said. "You don't have to come here and be my acolyte. You can join Jenny Craig. You can go see Weight Watchers."
Bennett said he tells obese patients their weight is bad for their health and their love lives. But the lecture drove one patient to write a letter to the Board of Registration in Medicine, which passed it on to the attorney general's office.
Bennett said the attorney general's office tried to get him to settle the matter by agreeing to attend a medical education course, which he refused.
"Did I sleep with somebody? Did I give somebody drugs? Was I careless? No. End of story," Bennett said. "That should have been the end of it."
Now, other overweight patients are coming to Bennett's defense.
"What really makes me angry is he told the truth," patient Mindy Haney said. "How can you punish somebody for that?"
Haney said Bennett has helped her lose more than 150 pounds, but, at first, she didn't want to listen.
"I have been in this lady's shoes. I've been angry and left his practice. I mean, in-my-car-taking-off angry," Haney said. "But once you think about it, you're angry at yourself, not Dr. Bennett. He's the messenger. He's telling you what you already know."
"I'm sorry," Bennett said. "If she's watching, I'm devoutly sorry to have offended you. I didn't mean to offend you. I meant to tell you the truth. And that's what I tried to do."
The medical board would not comment, but member Kevin Costin said, "Physicians have to be professional with patients and remember everyone is an individual. You should not be inflammatory or degrading to anyone."
(Cross posted to Customers_Suck)