The American Heart Association lists obesity as one of several modifiable independent risk factors for cardiovascular disease.4 Overweight individuals are also at higher risk for a long list of other diseases, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, stroke, gallbladder disease, arthritis, sleep disturbances and problems breathing, and certain types of cancers.5 There is also growing evidence that obesity may be a risk factor for asthma.6Obese patients may delay seeking medical care for a number of reasons, including self-consciousness about their weight, fear of negative comments from physicians and staff, or past negative experiences with hospitals or staff.2 When patients delay seeking appropriate preventive care, they are more likely to end up in the emergency department or be admitted to the hospital and, consequently, under the care of a hospitalist.
For a large person, this can create the first dilemma in receiving care.
Given the statistical trend toward obesity in the general population and the skyrocketing increase in bariatric surgical programs, hospitals need to address the special design and equipment needs of obese patients in both their short- and long-range planning.
There are many reasons why design guidelines and considerations for the obese and bariatric patients are needed, but perhaps one of the most important reasons is patient dignity.
In the past, many have been transported in freight elevators and weighed on loading docks.
Healthcare organizations across the nation are also changing their care delivery practices to address the increasing needs of our increasingly obese population.
Because safe patient handling of obese people is an especially important issue, architects and designers are developing approaches to minimize workplace injuries associated with caring for these patients.
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Defining obesity Obesity is an excess of body fat that impairs one’s health.