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Emergency department physicians struggle to lift obese patients
07.25.2012The obesity epidemic is a well-known burden on the American healthcare system. Obesity increases the chances of a person developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and numerous other conditions that could ultimately require emergency medicine.
However, widespread overeating has proven to be a more literal burden on some of our nation's medical workers. A recent feature in Delaware Online documents the health risks for nurses, nursing aides, and orderlies at Delaware's Baptist Hospital as they frequently struggled to lift morbidly overweight patients.
"In the course of an eight-hour day, a nurse will typically lift 1.8 tons, which is pretty astronomical," a workplace safety coordinator at Baptist told the news source.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 35.7 percent of American adults were obese as of 2010.
Numbers from the American Nurses Association indicate that suffering a disabling injury on the job was a major worry of 62 percent of nurses surveyed in 2011. It is noteworthy that according to the same survey, only 46 percent of participants confirmed that their hospital had devices to move heavier patients in 2001. That percentage had climbed to 64 percent by 2011, however only 31 percent of those devices were frequently used.
Delaware Online says the Baptist Hospital implemented lifting mechanisms that can move 600 to 1,000 lbs. These were purchased as part of a pilot project to reduce onsite injuries three years ago, after a nurse ended up needing three different kinds of surgery due to injuries stemming from lifting patients. These types of injuries have plummeted at the hospital since then.
"Manual patient handling is unsafe and directly responsible for musculoskeletal disorders suffered by nurses," a spokesman for the American Nurses Association told the website. "Patient handling can be performed safely with the use of assistive equipment."
Categories: Emergency medicine
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