Increased Difficulty And Expense In Transporting Obese Patients
The Washington Post recently reported it is becoming increasingly common for paramedics and ambulances to be called upon to transport patients weighing 350 pounds or more. In fact, this has become a daily occurrence. According to the article, every few months patients weighing as much as 600 pounds require emergency transportation.
The super-sized patients require super-sized equipment as well as additional training to avoid injuries among the emergency medical personnel and paramedics. Expensive equipment upgrades have lead paramedic communities to increase their fees for transporting patients who are obese.
I know from my own experiences talking with hospital and emergency medical personnel that back injuries are a serious concern for these workers when transporting obese patients.
It is an increasing problem not only in the paramedic/ambulance situation, but within the hospital itself. A great number of these workers who themselves are often becoming overweight, suffer increased strains and lumbar and cervical spine difficulties as a result of having to lift and transfer heavier and heavier patients. Purchasing expensive equipment upgrades provides only a partial solution, but it does not really solve the day-to-day needs of transferring a patient say from a gurney to a bed. This normally requires human hands and human bodies. With the shortage of personnel, healthcare dollar cutbacks and lower staffing models, there are fewer people available to help with these tasks. More often than not, a two person team will be forced to perform the transfer even if the patient is obese.