At one time or another, we are subject to fat shaming and weight discrimination. Even in the sacred space of healthcare, practitioners often treat us indifferently rather than properly. The New York Times newspaper reports our healthcare system — in its attitudes, equipment and common practices — is ill prepared. And its practitioners are often unwilling, to treat obese patients.
In these situations we’ve needed to advocate for ourselves. To stand up for our rights. To force someone to listen to our needs and concerns. Or seek justice for a wrong. And perhaps we faltered when that time came. Because it is very hard to stand up and demand fair treatment when power dynamics are skewed. Or when we’re feeling vulnerable and in pain.
After all, healthcare practitioners are supposed to be the experts when it comes to obesity. We put our lives in their hands, literally and figuratively, and we trust their judgement on medical treatment. So it can be difficult to question or challenge healthcare practitioners, hospitals and the like when they are working hard to care for us.
Doctors are Not Infallible
Just as with any other field, healthcare practitioners can make mistakes. They can be negligent. They can be out of line, like what happened to me during an exam. And sometimes, the treatment decisions they make can have consequences.
While uncommon, I’ve seen people harmed by bariatric surgery and plastic surgery. Look at this woman who had a disaster butt lift. It happened to me with my brachioplasty, too! And all too common, I’ve seen people treated unfairly by healthcare professionals or their staff. So it’s very important that you know your healthcare rights and advocate for them.
If you are harassed by a healthcare practitioner or the victim of negligence or malpractice then you should know your rights. You are not powerless! There are things you can do to hold the doctor, hospital, clinic or other healthcare practitioner responsible. Take them to task for what you’ve suffered due to their behavior.
Ways to Advocate for Your Healthcare
For minor issues, a good idea may be to lodge a complaint with the hospital, clinic, or medical board. Lodging a complaint often gets good results. And it may help if you also leave a review via social media. Most clinics and hospitals don’t like bad press, so they’ll work hard to right the situation for you. Know your rights to write negative reviews, too — writing a negative review is not defamation. Read: 18 Insider Tips on Plastic Surgery.
The facility should lodge your complaint with the state licensing board. So your complaint also can have consequences for the doctor, nurse or healthcare practitioner. And for very egregious complaints healthcare practitioners could lose their licenses.
When You Need Expert Help
What if your complaint doesn’t work? If you’re dealing with something very serious that has resulted in further injury, then you may hire an attorney. Medical malpractice attorneys will assist in putting your case together and holding the healthcare provider’s feet to the fire. Hopefully you get the settlement you need to take care of your further medical bills and treatment.
What about the death of a loved one due to medical malpractice or negligence? Hiring tough and skilled wrongful death attorneys who have the know-how and legal expertise to win your case is a very good idea. These attorneys will hold the person(s) responsible accountable for the death of your loved one. And get you get the settlement you and your family deserve.
Some struggle with the thought of hiring an attorney to sue a medical facility or healthcare provider. Keep in mind that you’re not only doing it for yourself. You also help the hundreds of potential other patients who might be harmed. By holding these healthcare providers accountable, you’re keeping others safe.
Naturally you may worry about the costs of hiring an attorney; you’ve already got medical debts and/or funeral expenses to contend with, after all. Most medical malpractice attorneys only receive payment after they win your case. They will make payment arrangements or agree to take their fees from the settlement. Take the time to compare rates and find a law firm that will work with you. And be sure to get their fees and compensation in writing.
Bottom Line on Healthcare
In times of grief, pain and/or uncertainty, it can be hard to imagine what the future holds. But one thing is clear: You deserve justice for what you’ve been through. So lodge a complaint. Write a letter to your local board. Or hire an attorney. The fact that you’re looking out for yourself and seeking accountability from your healthcare practitioners is a good thing. Advocating for your healthcare is vitally important. The dying wish of Ellen Maude Bennett is that “women of size make her death matter by advocating strongly for their health and not accepting that fat is the only relevant health issue.“
Living larger than ever,
My Bariatric Life