Tag Archives: Obesity and patient safety

Providing safe care to obese patients requires obese specific infrastructure and sensitivity

Obese patients face additional safety issues

A recent study in the U.K. reviewed the types of patient safety issues faced by obese patients.  It specifically focused on patient safety incidents where obesity was deemed to be a factor, reported to that country’s National Patient Safety Agency.  The results of the study shed light into the causes of errors and safety issues related to care of obese patients.  They also provide administrators and clinicians with data that could drive the development of a safer environment of care for this specialized but growing segment of the population.

The group carrying out the study, led by Dr. J.A. Moore of Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, searched the National Reporting and Learning System database for all reported incidents involving obese patients over some 3 1/2 years.  It should be noted that all incidents listed in the database were voluntarily reported and may or may not be representative of the actual error rates prevalent in the health system.  Of 555 patient safety incidents identified by the group, 388 met the study’s criteria for further analysis.  148 (38%) of these were related to assessment, diagnosis or treatment of the obese patient while 213 (55%) were infrastructure related, 84 (22%) were surgery related, and 28 (7%) represented staffing implications.  While the majority of incidents – 86%, were classified as causing no or low harm, 12% represented moderate harm and three deaths, all related to anesthesia issues fell into the category of fatal errors.