Super-sizing hospital equipment can cost up to $5 million

Wheelchairs made to sustain extra weight, MRIs with larger openings. Hospitals and doctors are investing in adjustments for obese patients, changes that benefit thinner patients too.

Hospitals and doctors are investing in adjustments for obese patients: iron-wrought waiting room chairs, wheelchairs and beds made to sustain extra weight, and toilets mounted to the floor, not the wall. Indianapolis Star reports.

The trend started about a decade ago when bariatric surgery took off in popularity and the American public began ballooning in weight. By the mid-2000s, hospitals had started to update with these patients in mind. That can mean anything from wider doorways to bigger commodes.

More than a third of U.S. hospitals invested in renovations to serve obese and morbidly obese patients better. In the past year, some hospitals have spent as much as $5 million in updates, according to the 2012 Novation report released last month.

  • Staff at Franciscan St. Francis Hospital Indianapolis have a wide-bore MRI scanner with a larger opening.
  • IU Health Methodist installed ceiling lifts to help move and transfer patients.
  • Surgeons at St. Vincent Indianapolis operate with the assistance of robots, which result in a better prognosis than open procedures for heavy patients (it’s harder to predict how morbidly obese patients will respond to surgery stresses and anesthesia). A robotic arm with its camera on the end gives the surgeon a view inside the body, leading to fewer complications and a quicker recovery.
  • Other considerations have included: larger stirrups for surgery, longer needles to deliver injections, and special surgical equipment to reach deeper inside a patient's abdominal cavity.

And hospitals have been trying to make all these changes sensitively – taking care not to identify patients as an obese patient through the whole journey.

As it turns out, these adjustments benefits thinner patients too:

  • Vein viewers can locate veins in patients whose fat obscures their vascular access; they're also useful in patients with difficult-to-find veins.
  • Scanners need wide enough holes and strong enough tables to accommodate larger patients; patients with claustrophobia may also appreciate them.

[Via Indianapolis Star]

Image by arriba via Flickr

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