Poll says hospitals burdened by obese patients

December 19, 2003 in Nutrition Topics in the News

Poll says hospitals burdened by obese patients

In America, some hospitals are buying costly new equipment such as reinforced toilets and oversized beds to treat a growing number of severely obese patients, according to a new survey.

The survey says that hospitals are seeing more severely obese patients – those who are overweight by at least 100 pounds.

Obesity is defined as having a body mass index (BMI – a measure of weight versus height) of 30 or more, and obese individuals are at increased risk for serious health problems, such as heart disease. More than 30 percent of U.S. adults, or 59 million people, are obese, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

80 percent of hospitals say they treated more severely obese patients in the last year than ever before, with 17 percent saying they remodeled to accommodate the largest patients, including more large-size beds, larger blood pressure cuffs, wider, reinforced wheelchairs and larger versions of other basic supplies to adjust to patient needs. Some standard equipment is obsolete on many larger patients, and special, longer surgical gloves, needles, and syringes are necessary.

Web sites such as www.fatcities.com offer furniture to accommodate people weighing 500 pounds and more, while funeraldepot.com has a line of oversized caskets.

Many patients or hospital visitors are too heavy for a wall-mounted toilet, which can handle up to 300 pounds, and hospitals may need to replace them with pedestal commodes that can support 2,000 pounds.

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