Addressing the Special Needs of Bariatric Patients

January 1, 2013 | Healthcare Risk, Quality, & Safety Guidance

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Healthcare facilities must ensure that they are prepared to address the special needs of obese patients. Lack of preparation can lead not only to patient dissatisfaction but, more significantly, to patient harm and staff injuries if, for example, adequately sized equipment is unavailable or staff are unable to manage the care of such patients.

Given the prevalence of obesity today, healthcare facilities and their providers should anticipate that they will be caring for more obese patients. About one in three U.S. adults is obese, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Larger patients require equipment, supplies, and patient rooms designed to accommodate their size, as well as staff able to respond to their specific clinical needs and special requirements for patient handling. Some studies suggest that obese patients often receive suboptimal care because staff are unfamiliar with the issues that can arise regarding obese patients’ care. In addition, judgmental attitudes of weight bias among some caregivers can interfere with patients’ care.

Many of the interventions that are considered routine for hospitalized patients pose unique challenges with obese patients, including the following (Brunette):

Obesity also increases a person’s risk for serious medical conditions,...

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