Friday, May 8, 2009

Heavyweight Stretchers – Size Does Matter

Today about two-thirds of adults in the U.S. are overweight or obese, and much of the dramatic increase in obesity figures has occurred during the last 20 years. Just as the obesity statistics have changed, so has the capacity of patient transport systems such as stretchers and wheelchairs.

Overweight individuals are perhaps as likely as lean people to find themselves in a situation that requires them to be put on a stretcher, and be transported to a hospital's emergency department. But transporting larger individuals isn't the same as carrying thin individuals, as patient transport systems such as the stretchers generally have a standard capacity of handling humans weighing between 350 and 500.

As a consequence it has raised an issue that's too serious to be ignored. Transporting overweight individual could cause an injury to the patient or the medics or both of them. Undesirable instances could include low capacity equipment simply cracking under pressure, or a large-sized individual falling off a stretcher, or the medics not being able to handle the load and/or injuring themselves.

These and other such concerns have been on the top of the minds of medical equipment manufacturers. And, for some time now, they have been bringing out patient transport systems such as stretchers with thicker aluminum frames, extra spine supports, bulkier connectors, to easily handle loads of upto 650 pounds.

While these extended capacity equipment do solve the problem at hand, they also add to the cost of acquiring these products. Nonetheless, it seems to be safer for an ambulance crew to have these products in their repertoire, than be sorry later. A botched up rescue operation will undoubtedly be a pain for everyone involved.

The society is changing, though undesirable, more people are becoming oversized. And the health care delivery equipment too should change, because size does matter.

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