Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Planning for Bariatric Patients

I received an e-mail requesting some insight into a SPECT camera capable of accepting a patient who weighs over 360 pounds (165kg). This got me thinking about the very narrow (no pun intended) focus that manufacturers offer bariatric patients in the area of medical equipment.

Beds, lifts, scales and wheelchairs represent almost all of the medical equipment designed for patients over 300 lbs. CT, MRI, Gamma Cameras and other diagnostic modalities are completely lacking in their ability to accept a patient of significant size. Most OR tables, exam tables and stretchers are rated up to 400 pounds, but they do not offer the width to support the patients size, making the stretchers side rails useless. Exam tables are difficult to "hop up onto" and few of the hi-lo tables are functional over 400 lbs. Rather than design for the size of a bariatric patient, many manufacturers have taken a literal interpretation of the request for a table that will support up to 650 pounds.

Here is an example of two different manufacturers take of bariatric exam tables:

As you can see, one offered a well thought out solution to the patient while one kept their original design and simply increased the weight capacity. If you are planning a department for patients in the 400 - 650lb. range, make sure you do more than just request a higher weight capacity. Make certain the equipment is functionally appropriate for the size and mobility limitations of your patients.

For the architects, you will need to size doors to accommodate the wider wheelchairs. A standard 3 foot door will not accommodate the larger transportation equipment. This bariatric transport chair is 41 inches wide, but even a 42 inch door is too narrow when you add the door and a push bar.

4 foot doors are needed for egress from the exam area all the way to the parking lot. Make sure you have a clear path into the department without any bottlenecks. Unless the obesity trend beings to reverse itself, the future holds even greater demand for specialized equipment to diagnose, treat and care for bariatric patients. If your project will be designed and equipped for bariatric patients, make certain you take the time to do it right.

No comments: