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Equitable Access to Healthcare for Obese Patients

Diagnostic imaging machines may not accommodate larger patients and weight-based medication dosing guidelines are lacking.

By: Michael Warner, MD, FRCPC, MBA

President, AdvisoryMD

According to Statistics Canada 61.8% of men and 46.2% of women were classified as overweight or obese in 2014. Obesity is a risk factor for many serious health problems including heart attack, stroke, sleep apnea and hip & knee arthritis. Given its prevalence, harmful effects and cost, obesity prevention should be a priority for individuals and all levels of government.

While the link between obesity and the diseases described above is clear, the health of obese patients is also at risk because physicians treating them may lack the necessary data to make an accurate diagnosis or prescribe appropriate treatment. For example, CT and MRI scanners have weight and size limits which exclude some obese patients from having these tests. Similarly, dosing guidelines for many medications, including antibiotics, do not exist for patients greater than 220 lbs (100 kg).

As described in the following radio interview on AM 640, and article & video from CBC's The National, the healthcare system needs to adapt to ensure that patients living with obesity have equitable access to the benefits of modern medicine.

Michael Warner is the President of AdvisoryMD. He provides healthcare entrepreneurs with medical advisory/director services and also performs clinical due diligence for investors evaluating healthcare companies.