Addressing the Need for Research on Bariatric Patient Handling



During the past 3 decades numerous studies have documented the high prevalence of patient handling-related musculoskeletal injuries among healthcare workers and evaluated ergonomic interventions using mechanized equipment for lifting and moving patients. A great deal of research-based evidence now demonstrates the effectiveness of ergonomic interventions to reduce injury risk among healthcare workers who handle patients of average weights and sizes. In contrast, there is a lack of evidence-based research that evaluates ergonomic interventions for handling bariatric patients, whose extreme weights and sizes necessitate specialized handling equipment. The obesity epidemic, along with special medical and therapeutic concerns regarding bariatric patients, exacerbates healthcare workers' patient handling demands. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health is conducting a new study to evaluate bariatric patient handling hazards and interventions and identify evidence-based best practices for handling this population.