How to plan for a bariatric patient admission

How to plan for a bariatric patient admission

September 30, 2014 / in Frontpage Article / by Djurica Brayovic

If you handle patients on a daily basis, your job is only going to become more demanding as bariatric patient admissions become more frequent. A 2006 study by WorkCover NSW found that bariatric patient admissions at Manning-Base Hospital alone jumped from 20 to 194 in four years.

With bariatric patient admissions becoming an ever-growing occurrence, you need to ask yourself if you are fully prepared to obtain and use appropriate equipment. Here are five  questions to ask when preparing for a bariatric patient admission:

1. Do you have up-to-date policies and procedures?


Lack of preparation and product knowledge may lead to delays in getting suitable equipment and can potentially put the bariatric unit out of action. The more detail you have in your policies and procedures, the more calm and orderly you will be in responding to a situation. This policy needs to be continuously reviewed and evaluated to make sure it is effective and current.

Questions you should cover include:

  • Who is responsible for sourcing equipment?

  • What equipment do you have?

  • What equipment do you need?

  • Who are your suppliers? Maintain a current register of supplier details including phone numbers, contact persons and product brochures.

  • What arrangements do you have for maintenance and cleaning?

  • How much staff is needed to operate it?

  • What are your training requirements?

  • How much does it cost?

  • How will you keep track of your equipment?

  • Is equipment compatible with one another?

2. Do you have accurate patient weight information?


You should ensure you have accurate and reliable information about the weight of the patient before obtaining equipment. Keep in mind that the maximum weight capacity of hospital equipment is typically 230kg.

Older information should be treated with caution. One of our clients was involved in the evacuation of a patient whose  weight was initially reported as 350kg. This information came from records made two records ago. However, since then, his weight had actually increased to 450kg and the bariatric bed sourced by our client was rated for the wrong weight. This resulted in further delays as a new bed had to be transported to the hospital.

3. Do you have enough space to accommodate the equipment?


The larger size of bariatric equipment requires more planning around logistics and storage. It is helpful to chart the path of the equipment through your facility to ensure it can move through doorways and lifts or else there is an alternative path. You may need to look into getting equipment which can be changed in size such as a bariatric bed with a split base.

4. Do you have access to suitable equipment on short notice?


When choosing suppliers, you should consider what arrangements will be in place for emergencies. Suppliers can be reluctant to provide equipment on a last-minute verbal purchase order. This can be one additional obstacle you do not need when trying to obtain equipment in a timely manner.

5. Are your staff adequately trained and educated?


Staff should be trained in how to properly use the equipment. Because staff don’t use this type of equipment often, knowledge can quickly go stale and needs to be periodically refreshed. In addition, you should account for new staff and casuals.

It is good to look into whether your supplier can provide added services such as hands-on training, videos and manuals.

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