Dawn Mangine

    Treating bariatric patients can be challenging. Patients with obesity may delay seeing a healthcare provider for routine medical care.

    In the video below, we show how healthcare providers can take a few simple steps toward making sure patients with obesity receive quality medical care. An office culture of respect for all patients will go a long way toward making patients comfortable and willing to be examined and treated.

    Steps to Improve Care for Bariatric Patients

    1. Create a positive environment. Create a positive, open, accommodating, and comfortable office space, from the waiting room to the exam room. Provide high, firm sofas or armless chairs in waiting rooms, and wide exam tables bolted to the floor in exam rooms. Having a step stool to help get onto the tables can be helpful, too.
    2. Use the right tools. Use the right medical devices and equipment to correctly assess patients with obesity – thigh cuffs for blood pressure measurements, extra-long needles for shots or blood draws, a large vaginal speculum.
    3. Be respectful. Be respectful when talking to patients about their weight. Don’t insist on talking about diets or weight loss if a patient doesn’t want to.
    4. Track health problems. Test for and track health problems linked to obesity, such as high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, and sleep apnea.
    5. Offer well-care services. Offer well-care services and routine testing such as breast exams, Pap smears, and prostate exams.
    6. Promote healthy behaviors, and talk about realistic health goals that will improve long-term health.
    7. Promote self-acceptance. Encourage patients to lead full and active lives. Patients with obesity aren’t bad people. They struggle with a serious medical condition that needs empathy and care, not lectures about what they are doing right or wrong.

    For more information about treating bariatric patients, see our white paper The Obesity Epidemic in America: Scenario Building to Address Obesity in the Sim Lab. Creating simulation scenarios, especially for nursing and EMS students and personnel, will improve empathy, safety, and patient outcomes.

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