Obese patients are placing a strain on emergency-care providers and equipment, according to an article in the October issue of the Annals of Emergency Medicine.
From the emergency room perspective, it (obesity) has increased the number of healthcare problems, said Theodore Delbridge, chief of emergency medicine at 755-bed Pitt County Memorial Hospital in Greenville, N.C. It puts strains on the (emergency department). We are seeing an increasing number of patients with diabetes and complicationsrenal failure or hypertension, Delbridge added.
Treating obese patients can also result in hospitals having to purchase more expensive equipment, such as bariatric ambulances.
While a typical ambulance with equipment and two paramedics might have the capacity for a 400-pound patient, a bariatric ambulance, which has a winch to pull a stretcher up a ramp, could carry a patient up to 1,000 pounds, the article said.
Citing a study from MarketStrat, a Fremont, Calif.-based consulting firm, the article said global sales of bariatric stretchers are expected to rise from $29.6 million in 2005 to $50.5 million in 2012, while the sales of special lift systems are expected to rise to $193 million from $75 million.
More than a decade ago, we were able to lift people in the ambulance, Delbridge said. Now there are hydraulic stretchers. A few decades ago that should have existed anyway, but what makes it more of a priority is the weight of patients. -- by Jessica Zigmond
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