The World Health Organization estimates that there are one billion people worldwide who are overweight. Of those one billion people, 300 million meet the criteria of obese. As the incidence of morbid obesity increases so does the number of weight loss surgeries. Given the currrent volume, bariatric surgery nursing care has become an intricate and important asset for favorable patient outcomes.
Special Needs of the Bariatric Patient and Bariatric Surgery Nursing Care
Bariatric patients present special challenges to a healthcare community that is dedicated to patient safety and dignity. Because of their size, many bariatric patients require help from a bariatric nurse to perform the simple tasks of daily living. The greater the amount of help required by the patient, the greater the risk of injury to the bariatric nurse.
The frequency of co-morbidities among obese patients makes them good candidates for complications when in the hospital. Bariatric patients are more susceptible to cardiac disease, hypertension, diabetes, and sleep apnea.
Bariatric patients also often have skin conditions. Because of increased skin folds and their larger bodies, weight loss patients often have difficulty with self-care tasks such as hygiene and toileting.
Responsibilities of the Bariatric Nurse
A bariatric nurse is an active participant in the weight loss surgery process. She can explain the medical tests as well as the reasons for those tests. She is also a conduit to the doctor, relaying pertinent information about the patient.
The bariatric nurse will help patients prepare for changes in diet, body image, and interpersonal relationships by providing useful and appropriate referral services. The bariatric nurse will also follow up to see if the family is using the services that are available.
The bariatric nurse provides written information and demonstrations for aftercare. A call number will be given to the patient upon discharge if she has any questions after returning home.
Ideally, follow-up calls should be made to the patient as well as the patient’s family to assess the welfare of the patient following discharge or to help address any complications.
Risks for Bariatric Nurses
The bariatric nurse is at risk for injury when caring for weight loss surgery patients.
Repositioning of weight loss patients and general assistance with daily activities put the bariatric nurse at risk for injury. Recommendations for spinal loading are already exceeded when lifting a 110-pound patient on bed linens. Many of the nursing services for weight loss patients exceed safe working-loads and can result in musculoskeletal injuries, strains, sprains, and excess spinal loading.
Living larger than ever,
My Bariatric Life