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Polls Finds Some Florida OB-GYNs Turn Away Obese Patients

Keith Brofsky/Photodisc/Thinkstock(FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.) -- Obese pregnant women, already at higher risk for health complications, have had another setback: a survey conducted this week by South Florida's Sun Sentinel revealed that several ob-gyns there refuse to treat overweight and obese women.

Some doctors who admitted they refused obese patients in the survey said that they did not have adequate equipment to treat women over a certain weight.  Others said they refuse obese patients because they are too high-risk to treat, and need doctors with special skills.

Drs. Jeffrey Solomon and Isabel Otero-Echandi, private practice ob-gyns in Plantation, Florida, were among the 15 who admitted they reject new patients who weigh more than 250 lbs, according to the Sun Sentinel.

The office manager said the doctors had no further comment.

Obese pregnant women are at an increased risk of gestational diabetes, preeclampsia and postpartum infection, among other complications.

Turning down obese patients is not illegal.  Doctors are allowed to drop or refuse patients if they feel a patient's condition is outside of their skill set, and it is not based on race, sexual orientation, or gender.

But Dr. F. Ralph Dauterive, chair of obstetrics and gynecology at the Ochsner Clinical Foundation in Baton Rouge, said that he not only disagrees with doctors who exclude overweight patients from an obstetrics practice, but he rejected the excuse that physicians' medical training would make them unable to care for obese patients.

"The medical risk to the pregnancy is greater, but the obstetrical trained MD should be capable of management," said Dauterive. "We have an obligation to care for patients based upon our training.  We really do owe that to the community in which we live."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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