Four Steps to Eliminate Weight Bias in Hospitals

As patient satisfaction becomes a key measure for success, weight bias in hospitals is becoming an intolerable liability. A recent study published in Obesity demonstrates how physician weight bias can lead to doctor shopping, compromised continuity of care, avoidable emergency department visits, and higher costs.

Speaking for the Obesity Society, ConscienHealth founder Ted Kyle offers four decisive steps leaders can take to eliminate weight bias in hospitals. Kyle’s comments appear in Becker’s Hospital Review.

  1. Train physicians to recognize and combat their own biases. Everyone harbors some bias. Medical training and objectivity can equip physicians to set their own biases aside. Failure to do so can seriously compromise patient care and must be addressed.
  2. Ensure the facilities and equipment can accommodate patients with obesity. Hospitals that miss this important consideration send a powerful message that one-third or more of their clients are not welcomed or respected.
  3. Remember the patient is a customer. Physician bias against patients with obesity can create a negative atmosphere and hurt patient satisfaction. “Hospitals need to create a culture of respect to establish truly patient-centered care and strengthen their brand,” says Kyle.
  4. Utilize resources from The Obesity Society and the Obesity Action Coalition. These leading organizations have resources for administrators and physicians to promote productive, respectful dialog about obesity and equip healthcare professional to address the condition as they would any other serious chronic disease.
    • The Obesity Society: Take Obesity Seriously resources
    • Obesity Action Coalition: Guide for Healthcare Providers

Click here to read more in Becker’s Hospital Review and click here to read the study of doctor shopping in patients with obesity.

Doctor Who Weeping Angel Cookies, photograph © justjenn / flickr

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