Survey: 28 percent of hospitals have renovated to accommodate the obese

If you think your hospital has been treating higher numbers of morbidly obese patients in recent years, chances are you're not alone. Medical supplier Novation has released its 2010 Bariatric Report, a nationwide survey of about 300 VHA Inc. and University HealthSystem Consortium member hospitals, confirming that the obesity epidemic poses new and significant challenges to hospitals.

According to the report, more than 48 percent of the respondents saw an increase in admissions of morbidly obese patients since 2008, while 13 percent saw a significant increase. Going back to 2008, 61 percent of hospitals report slight to significant increases.

What's more, 28 percent of respondent hospitals reported having invested in physical renovation of facilities last year to accommodate the morbidly obese, with another 8 percent saying they plan to do so.

Among the specialized medical equipment Novation reports hospitals have been buying, bariatric blood pressure cuffs are the most common, with 81 percent of respondents reporting their use. Other popular items include bariatric beds and mattresses, stretchers, compression stockings, OR tables, non-clinical furniture, surgical instruments, ID bands, needles and even post-mortem bags.
While the industry has seen an overall decrease in spending on renovations and building improvements due to the still recovering economy, according to the report, top physical renovations included wider door opening, higher load steel toilets, seating for patients and families and open showers.

Hospitals are also making it a priority to protect workers, the survey revealed, with more than 80 percent indicating that they offer some kind of training, such as lifting and handling, ergonomics and sensitivity training.

To learn more:
- read this post on the Wall Street Journal Health Blog
- here's the press release