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How Do I Safely Move Bariatric Patients?

Why is it important to take additional steps when moving a bariatric patient?
How do I move a bariatric patient into bed?
What if I still can’t move the bariatric patient?
What else should I know about moving a bariatric patient?
Is there anything that can be changed around the house to help bariatric patients?

Why is it important to take additional steps when moving a bariatric patient?

Bariatric patients are becoming increasing common. Find articles reports that 1 in 80 men weigh more than 300 lbs., which is a 50% jump between 1996 to 2000. Not only are men affected, but one in every 200 women weighs more than 300 lbs.; a 67% increase. With this increase in the bariatric population, it is important that nursing staff, bariatric patients, and relatives of the bariatric patient understand proper moving techniques. If a person improperly moves a bariatric patient, they put themselves at an increased risk of musculoskeletal injury. Also, the bariatric patient may be uncomfortable, both emotionally and physically, with improper moving techniques.

How do I move a bariatric patient into bed?

Before moving the patient into bed, make sure the bed frame can handle bariatric patients. Vitality Medical carries several models of bariatric beds and each of these bariatric beds are specifically designed to handle the weight of a bariatric patient. Nursing Spectrum suggests that once the patient has a bariatric bed, place the wheelchair against the side of the bed. Staff or those helping the bariatric patient should be placed on one of the patient's sides, with one person holding the wheelchair securely down. As the bariatric patient is lifted, the feet and thighs should be parallel to the floor. The legs should be closed and the elbows at the bariatric patient's side. Make sure the sheets are drawn so that those assisting do not have to move the sheets out from under the bariatric patient.

How do I move a bariatric patient into bed?

Caretakers may not have the option of having multiple people helping move a bariatric patient, or some hospital's/hospice's may not have the resources to have several people helping. Vitality Medical carries trapeze equipment to help move bariatric patients in those situations. These lifts and trapezes are easy to assemble, and adjustable to accommodate the bariatric patient's individual needs. The slings are made of a sturdy canvas so bariatric patients are comfortable and secure.

What else should I know about moving a bariatric patient?

The journal Bariatric Nursing and Surgical Patient Care has a few things to keep in mind as you help move a bariatric patient.

  • Never try to move a bariatric patient by yourself the first time.
  • Be patient with the bariatric patient and give them time to get ready.
  • As you help others move a bariatric patient, everyone should know their role (e.g. You're in charge of holding the wheelchair while other people lift.

Is there anything that can be changed around the house to help bariatric patients?

Look over the house and arrange equipment, furniture and open spaces so that a bariatric patient can easily turn around and navigate. You may also want to consider purchasing a walker, rollator, or crutches to help the bariatric patient more easily move around the house. If standard toilets can't support the weight of the bariatric patient, a bariatric commode should be used instead.

Sources

Bariatric Nursing and Surgical Patient Care - Tips And Tools for Safe Patient Handling
The Reporter - Campaign to reduce work-related injuries among nurses at VUMC underway; addresses bariatric patients' needs
Find Articles - A weighty problem: treating and transporting patients - News
Nursing Spectrum - Rise in Bariatric Patients Calls for Specialized Equipment, Techniques
Naidex - Bariatric patients - Could we do more?

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