Essentials of a Bariatric Patient Handling Program

By Muir, Marylou; Archer-Heese, Gail | Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, January 2009 | Go to article overview

Essentials of a Bariatric Patient Handling Program


Muir, Marylou, Archer-Heese, Gail, Online Journal of Issues in Nursing


Abstract

There is a noticeable increase in the number of bariatric admissions to healthcare facilities. This trend presents a challenge to healthcare providers and facilities striving to provide dignified care that is effective and safe both for the patient and the provider. Many bariatric patients, due to their size and difficulty with mobility, require assistance with numerous activities of daily living. The more mobility-dependent the patient is, the greater the risk for injury for those providing the care. The additional myriad of bariatric patients' co-morbidities makes these patients especially vulnerable for health complications during their hospital stay. The authors of this article provide definitions related to bariatrics and describe specific health concerns of bariatric patients. They also discuss the risks of injury for providers caring for bariatric patients, explain the components of a bariatric safe patient handling program, and conclude with a discussion of current issues related to the care of bariatric patients.

Citation: Muir, M., Archer-Heese, G., (January 31, 2009) "Essentials of a Bariatric Patient Handling Program" OJIN: The Online Journal of Issues in NursingVol. 14, No. 1, Manuscript 5. Available: www.nursingworld.org/MainMenuCategories/ANAMarketplace/ANAPeriodicals/OJIN/TableofContents/Vol142009/No1Jan09/Bariatric-Patient-Handling-Program-.aspx

Key words: bariatric patients; injury prevention; safe patient handling protocols and guidelines; risk to healthcare workers

The magnitude of the obesity problem world wide has been described by the World Health Organization as being one of the world's most significant health problems. Healthcare providers cannot help but notice the increase in obese and morbidly obese patients admitted to our healthcare facilities. The magnitude of the obesity problem world wide has been described by the World Health Organization [WHO] (2000; 2009), as being one of the world's most significant health problems. They estimate that worldwide there are more than a billion adults considered to be overweight, with 300 million of those meeting the criteria of obese (WHO, 2009). As nurses we desire to offer quality and respectful patient care to bariatric patients; yet the methods, equipment, and environment in which many of us we were prepared to care for these patients no longer serve us well. New approaches to caring for bariatric patients are needed. To meet these challenges all healthcare professionals must work collaboratively and accept standardized, evidence-based approaches in the care they provide. In this article the authors will provide definitions related to bariatrics and describe specific health concerns of bariatric patients. They will also discuss the risks of injury for providers caring for bariatric patients, explain the components of a bariatric safe patient handling program, and conclude with a discussion of current issues related to the care of bariatric patients.

Bariatric Definitions

Bariatrics is the science of providing healthcare for those who have extreme obesity. Bariatrics is the science of providing healthcare for those who have extreme obesity. Both a patient's weight and the distribution of this weight throughout the body are involved in determining whether one is a bariatric patient. The most commonly accepted and consistent language for identifying and defining bariatric patients has been through the use of the Body Mass Index or BMI. The World Health Organization describes people who have a BMI greater than 30 as obese, and those having a BMI greater than 40 as severely obese (WHO, 2000). Other definitions of bariatric include overweight by more than 100-200 pounds or body weight greater then 300 pounds. (Hahler, 2002). In the recent past, standard facility weight capacity for patient-handling-equipment lifts has been 250-350 pounds. Staff often activate bariatric protocols, guidelines, and/or similar actions when a patient's weight exceeds 350 pounds. …

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