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Keywords:

  • body mass index;
  • emergency department;
  • empirical research report;
  • hospital equipment;
  • nurses;
  • obese patients;
  • quality of care;
  • questionnaires

Abstract

Title. Emergency department equipment for obese patients: perceptions of adequacy

Aim.  This study reports an investigation to assess patients’ and nurses’ perceptions of equipment adequacy for obese patients presenting at an emergency department and to assess nurses’ knowledge of equipment weight limits in the emergency department.

Background.  The increasing weight of populations in many societies is a challenge to healthcare providers and facilities. Emergency department equipment, specifically, may be inadequate for patient care.

Methods.  Two questionnaires were developed. One was administered to 134 emergency department patients with suspected cardiac ischaemia; the other was administered to their respective nurses. Patient and nurse equipment adequacy scores were computed. Patients’ self-reported height and weight were used to calculate body mass index. Waist circumference was measured. The data were collected in Canada in 2005.

Findings.  Patient equipment adequacy scores correlated inversely with both body mass index (r = −0·55, 95% CI = −0·70 to −0·41, P < 0·01) and waist circumference (r = −0·62, 95% CI = −0·75 to −0·48, P < 0·01). Nurse equipment adequacy scores were also inversely related to patient body mass index (r = −0·34, 95% CI = −0·50 to −0·18, P < 0·01) and waist circumference (r = −0·40, 95% CI = −0·56 to −0·24, P < 0·01). There was a weak correlation between nurse and patient equipment adequacy scores (r = 0·27, 95% CI = −0·44 to −0·10, P < 0·01). Small minorities of nurses reported accurate knowledge of weight limits for beds, commodes and toilets.

Conclusion.  Specialized equipment and staff education are needed for adequate management of obese patients in the emergency department.