Health In Focus
  • Unique challenges faced by hospital staff in treating critically ill obese patients in an ICU
  • Study provides guidance on optimum care for such patients
  • Critically ill obese patients in the ICU may require additional care by nurses and frequent monitoring.

Obesity is fast rising to be a matter of major health concern across the world. According to Youth Risk Behaviour Surveillance System in the U.S (2015) it was found that
  • 13.9% high school students were obese
  • 35% of people in three states in the U.S were found to be obese (West Virginia, Mississippi and Arkansas)
  • 34.9% of adults were obese
The figures are alarming across the world with the number of obese patients increasing. There are many complications that are associated with being obese, however, a new study by Dr. Lori A. Dambaugh and colleagues from St. John Fisher College in Rochester looks at the possible complications during hospitalization in an ICU. The study titled Progressive Care of Obese Patients was published in the Journal of High Acuity, Progressive and Critical Care Nursing.

Dr. Dambaugh says "With up to a quarter of critically ill patients classified as obese, nurses must be aware of how obesity may change how their patients respond to their illness,".
Obesity Epidemic Could Increase Complications of ICU Patients
Obesity Epidemic Could Increase Complications of ICU Patients

Obesity can increase the risk of
  • High blood pressure/hypertension
  • Diabetes
  • Ulcers
  • Incontinence
  • Gastroesophageal reflux
  • Joint disease
  • Heart disease

Recommendations for Critically Ill Obese Patients Based on the Study

  • Increased Assessment: The patient might require additional assessment
  • Frequent Monitoring: Nurses might need to monitor obese patients more often.
  • Increased Need for Intervention: Intervention strategies may have to be utilized more often in critically ill patients classified as obese.
  • Progressive Care Unit:The study also recommends that critically ill obese patients who are shifted out of the ICU should be observed in a progressive care unit before shifting to a general unit or discharged home.
Margaret M. Ecklund, who is the co-author of the study says "Progressive care is the unifying term for the increased level of care and nursing vigilance needed by patients who are not in the ICU but have complex healthcare needs. Progressive care units may be an excellent setting for obese patients who require increased monitoring and may have unstable clinical conditions."

Obese patients are at increased risk of complications due to the health implication of the condition. Additional monitoring, as recommended by this study, will enable a better quality of care.

References :
  1. Obesity Rates & Trends - (
  2. Obesity - Introduction - (
Source: Medindia

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