Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Heavy thoughts

A weighty kerfluffle arose and then quickly disappeared in Victoria, Texas. As reported in Becker's Hospital Review, Citizens Medical Center instituted a ban on hiring people with body mass indices (BMIs) of 35 or higher.  According to the Texas Tribune, the hospital stated that an employee’s physique “should fit with a representational image or specific mental projection of the job of a healthcare professional,” including an appearance “free from distraction” for hospital patients.  (The image to the left is from the Tribune.)

Shortly later Becker's reported that the folks at Citizens had second thoughts, announcing they would rescind the ban. This may have been the result of pressure from the Obesity Action Coalition.

I'd like to say something thoughtful about all this, but I am mainly perplexed.  How did this rise to the level of a hospital policy in the first place?


Anonymous said...

It is no secret that health care is full of obese professionals. Rather than ask how this rose to the level of a hospital policy, I would ask how those professionals got to that situation, knowing all the associated risks. No wonder we can't get lay patients to comply with healthy behaviors.

Paul Levy said...

Hmm, sounds like you are blaming the victims. Not to mention being a bit paternalistic about people: "WE can't GET THEM to COMPLY."

I don't know many overweight people who made a conscious effort to be overweight. I do know that the reasons for obesity are multifactorial. While it is easy to assume that it comes from a desire to eat more or exercise less, it appears that there may be genetic and/or metabolic reasons behind that desire. Just as there are complicated reasons behind a lot of other self-destructive behavior patterns.

If we start discriminating against hiring people for poor metabolic habits, what's next? Poor driving? Buying too many lottery tickets? Having a face lift?

Sorry, but it is just to easy to judge -- and too arbitrary -- and not related at all to a person's competency, empathy, and ability as a caregiver.