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Risks to Healthcare Organizations and Staff Who Manage Obese (Bariatric) Patients and Use of Obesity Data to Mitigate Risks: A Literature Review

Authors McClean K, Cross M, Reed S

Received 30 October 2020

Accepted for publication 2 February 2021

Published 8 March 2021 Volume 2021:14 Pages 577—588


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Scott Fraser

Kim McClean, Martyn Cross, Sue Reed

School of Medical and Health Sciences, Edith Cowan University, Western Australia, 6027, Australia

Correspondence: Kim McClean
Occupational Safety and Health Department at Edith Cowan University, Western Australia, 6027, Australia
Tel +61 8 6304 5764
Fax +61 8 6304 2626
Email [email protected]

Abstract: This literature review explores obesity risks to healthcare staff and organizations that manage and caring for obese (bariatric) patients. These risks are anticipated to increase due to Australian population obesity rate projections increasing from 31% in 2018 to 42% by the year 2035, which will result in increased hospital admissions of patients with obesity. Literature searches were conducted through the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), MEDLINE, Scopus, and Web of Science. Thirty studies met the inclusion criteria and were tabulated and critiqued using appropriate appraisal techniques. High risk of injury to healthcare staff was identified relating to bariatric patient handling tasks. High liability and financial risks of organizations were also identified relating to workers’ compensation and common law claims by injured staff and medical negligence claims by patients with obesity. Availability of obesity data was identified within clinically captured information, which could be utilized to inform obesity risk management programs. Future research should focus on improving the use and quality of obesity data to better understand obesity risks to healthcare organizations and staff, including accurate identification of obese patient admissions, enhanced ability to measure bariatric patient handling hazards and related staff injuries and improved assessment of bariatric intervention effectiveness.

Keywords: hospital, patient handling, injury, risk management, body mass index, patient

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