Safely caring for class III obese patients brings a unique set of demands to healthcare facilities and their staff. Class III obese patients require special equipment that is big enough and strong enough to support them safely while in the care of others. A review of five years of events reported to the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority identified 180 equipment-use event reports involving class III obese patients. In July 2012, a statewide survey was sent to Pennsylvania hospitals to determine how prepared they were to care for this patient population. The survey identified that 36.5% (n = 23 of 63) of respondents indicated that their hospital does not have an evacuation plan in place for moving class III obese patients to a safe location in an emergency. An additional finding was that more hospitals rent versus own bariatric equipment, which may provide insight into why, in some of the Authority event reports, bariatric equipment was not available or why patients had delays in care. Addressing equipment challenges can include tracking the number of class III obese patients at the facility, educating staff about the acquisition and use of bariatric equipment, providing sensitivity training, and updating policies and procedures for class III obese patients.
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