Impact of increasing obesity on primary health carers: an Australian perspective

Increasing levels of obesity in Australia are having a direct impact on those associated with primary care and patient transport.Whether the patient movement is undertaken in the uncontrolled environment of the home or the controlled environment of the hospital, design features generally limit the use of equipment and the application of safe handling procedures.Ambulance and fire services are increasingly developing policies and procedures that address the movement of obese and morbidly obese (bariatric) patients and the purchase and use of equipment. Yet the efficacy of these procedures is hampered by the absence of a standard definition of the term ‘bariatric’. Various definitions of ‘bariatric’ are applied in different sectors and risk-based approaches rather than those based on weight, body dimensions or BMI may be more useful.Substantially more work is required to inform the development of intervention strategies that will lead to significant and sustained risk reduction. Further work is also needed to quantify the frequency of bariatric patient movement within the emergency services across Australia. A clear representation of the journey and the interfaces between the agencies and carers and their respective roles would assist with defining the problem and understanding the solutions.

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