When it comes to the health problems obesity creates, diabetes and heart disease top the list. But what happens when the patient is so obese, they have trouble even getting into a doctor’s office to be diagnosed? Obesity is taking a toll on not only doctors and paramedics, but their medical equipment, as well.
A recent study in Texas’s Rio Grande Valley area by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control found that patients calling 911 are more likely to be obese now than ever before. The counties in the study each saw a 5 to 10 percent increase in obese callers.
Once paramedics arrive to assess the situation, it can be a daunting task. Not only do they have to be able to physically carry the patient, but they often use devices that may not work on obese patients.
“Obesity interferes with an obese person’s ability to receive medical care, even emergency medical care,” Dr. Dirk says. “Even with attention to the specific needs of the increasing weight of Americans, a lot of medical equipment cannot support obese patients.”
The obesity epidemic has made medical professionals rethink their equipment. A traditional ambulance gurney can only support 330 pounds, and operating room tables often only hold 500 pounds.
Many paramedic organizations, doctors’ offices and even hospitals have had to invest in special stretchers, surgical tables or even CAT scan machines because the standard versions cannot support the weight of the many obese patients.
“When patients exceed the limits of hospital or emergency responder equipment, that means they may not be able to receive life-saving care,” Dr. Dirk says.
Whether you’re on the brink of calling 911 or not, it’s important to consider the many impacts your weight can have on your health. If it’s time for you to take the next step toward a healthy weight and you don’t know where to start, contact Dr. Dirk today.