I lead a discussion on Twitter yesterday and learned that many people are unaware of their rights as a patient, and that some people avoid going to the doctor due to being put on a scale.
You have the right to refuse to be weighed at your doctor’s office.
You can also ask to be weighed without looking at the scale and ask not to know your weight.
Personally, because I am usually wearing heavier clothes, and I am required (for medical reasons) to weigh myself daily, I tell the medical assistant my weight. If they argue, I tell them they are making me uncomfortable, and they stop.
Generally, I am coming to see my doctor about an acute illness, not my weight. My doctor does not need to know my weight to order a blood test or many medications.
Times when your doctor may insist on a weight and you should probably comply:
- If you are at a hospital, about to have surgery or need antibiotics – proper weight = proper dose
- If you are at a hospital and are not eating or are on medications, they may want to weigh you daily to check effectiveness.
- If you are coming in to specifically talk about weight loss or gain.
- If you are coming in for a physical (although still, you can refuse, but I would suggest weighing yourself at home).
- If you have had weight loss surgery, you can expect to be weighed at each appointment before and after.
Your doctor can refuse treatment if you refuse to be weighed. You can fire your doctor. You can call your insurance, report your complaint and find a different doctor. You have rights, and I want you to know what they are.
Nurses: Remember it is our job to advocate for our patients. If a patient is not coming in for a weight related problem, we may not need to know their weight. Ask yourself if insisting on a weight is going to cause the patient stress.