The Current State of Obesity in Healthcare: A Perfect Storm
Authors: Tamara M. James
Abstract: Obesity is a growing public health problem in the United States. Obese individuals are at greater risk for early death as well as chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and musculoskeletal disorders. The economic costs related to obesity are substantial and are impacting society as a whole. More specifically they are having an impact on healthcare workers since obese individuals use healthcare services at a greater rate than normal weight individuals. The risk of injury to healthcare workers is also growing as this patient population increases. To date, much of the focus on injury risk to healthcare workers from obese patients has been in the area of patient handling at the bedside. However, there are other disciplines with increasing injury risks due to the growing needs of obese patients in surgery, OB/GYN, ultrasound, radiology, and even morgue/autopsy. It is difficult to control patient weights but more emphasis could be placed on maintaining healthy weights of healthcare workers. Previous research has demonstrated a relationship between workers BMI and injury rates. Thus the risks of working with obese patients coupled with growing obesity among healthcare workers is creating a “perfect storm” that can negatively impact the delivery of quality healthcare.
Keywords: Obesity, Obese Patients, Healthcare Workers, Worker Health, Musculoskeletal Disorders
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