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Healthcare Workers Trained to Handle the Obese

Healthcare Workers Trained to Handle the Obese

Posted - Mar. 31, 2004 at 4:47 p.m.



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Ed Yeates ReportingThe problem of chronic obesity in our population is having a health effect on people who are not overweight. Health care workers are being trained now on how best to handle a new generation of patients.

At Salt Lake Regional Hospital health care workers are showing their colleagues around the country how to protect themselves and their overweight patients from injury. Dressed in a bariatric outfit, medical insurance consultant Tim Davidson simulates the overweight patient.

With many older, seasoned nurses staying on the job longer now, the risk for back injuries while trying to move such a patient has increased, and so have insurance premiums.

Heavier patients - even younger ones in their twenties - are more prone to fall, especially after major surgery.

A device is being used more and more in hospitals to lift patients weighing upwards of 500 pounds. These folks are often in a weakened condition and have difficulty getting in and out of bed.

John Kass, R.N., Director, Critical Care, SL Regional Hospital: "Today we had to rent what is called a Magnum II bed that holds up to 800 pounds."

John Kass says one 27-year old patient who came in for bariatric surgery weighed 517 pounds.

Kass: "As we stood the individual up, he perspired so much and was so out of breath, at 27 years old, just going from a sitting position to a standing position."

More than half of the admitting patients now to many hospitals are overweight. Some within that group are diagnosed with conditions related to what is called "core obesity."

The new training program is not only for nurses, but for technicians and staff support people as well - anyone who may be asked to help handle heavier patients.

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