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Friday, November 18, 2016

A Weighty Question

What is this obsession among people who work in doctors' offices about making patients step on a scale?

Unless there is a real medical need for me to get weighed every time I visit a doctor, I will continue to refuse. And so far there has been no medical necessity. I'm sure the people telling me to step on the scale are just doing what they are told to do, but I no longer comply.

I started refusing last year after I had two appointments with different doctors on the same day, and I was told to step on the scale at both. I had obliged the first time, but the second time I replied that I was weighed that morning and my weight hadn't changed over the past couple of hours. Both doctors were part of the same large medical group, so my weight was available.

Most office personnel seem taken aback but accepting of my refusal, but once in a while one of them makes her displeasure obvious. I don't care. It is my right as a patient to refuse this or any test, and getting weighed is a test. In addition to being unnecessary, it is highly inaccurate. What is the point of getting a weight on a fully clothed patient wearing jeans, a sweater, a jacket and shoes, and who just finished breakfast and drinking juice, tea and a large glass of almond milk less than an hour previously? 

I understand that large weight gain or loss could indicate a serious health problem. If that happens to me, I certainly would bring it up with my primary care physician. I would not discuss it with the ear, nose and throat doctor or the osteoporosis doctor, both of whose offices I visited recently. My weight has absolutely no relevance to the reasons I visited those medical practices. And if my weight is needed so my doctor can prescribe the correct dosage of a medication or before surgery, by all means I will comply. But forget about getting weighed just because patients always get weighed.

Part of my refusal to submit to unnecessary weighing is my growing opposition to the ever-increasing collection of personal information by businesses. I have spent hours removing my personal information from various Internet sites that sell it to anybody for a fee. I refuse to provide my Social Security number to get a quote for car insurance or to set up an account with a veterinarian or physician. I will not give my address simply so I can sign a petition. I have a separate e-mail account that I use when required to provide an e-mail address on some Web sites. I will not give someone my phone number except in rare cases. I always 'opt out' of businesses being allowed to share my personal information "with carefully selected companies may be on interest" to me. But my e-mail account still gets bombarded with spam, as does my cell phone get flooded with calls from telemarketers despite being on the useless do-not-call list.

So my refusal to get weighed at the doctor's office (I weigh myself at home every morning) is part of a bigger attempt to regain control of the information being collected about me. I am an average size and weight, so my refusal to step on the scale has nothing to do with being ashamed of my weight and everything to do with trying to reclaim control of my personal information. 

This may be a losing battle, but it is one I will continue to wage.