Morbidly obese patients, as well as those who are elderly, require enhanced nursing care to help oversee transitions between healthcare providers and settings, claim US researchers.
They noted that work had currently been focused on care transitions regarding high hospital re-admission rates among older patients and those with long-term conditions.
“Healthcare delivery systems must be prepared to provide necessary resources and all levels of care”
For example, they noted that “significant attention” had been given to try and ensure continuity of care, preventing hospital re-admission and avoiding complications.
But the researchers, from University of Pennsylvania’s school of nursing, argued that the specific needs of severely obese patients had so far been “largely overlooked”.
They said their new study findings illustrated the present “challenges of transitioning” patients who were severely obese to a nursing home after an acute care stay.
The researchers based their findings on a survey of 97 discharge planners who were asked about the type and frequency of issues encountered when arranging care placements for obese patients.
They found that patient size and perceived availability of bariatric equipment could act as barriers to discharging obese patients to nursing homes.
One third of the survey respondents reported inability to transfer patients, with staffing and equipment cited among the most common issues that acted as barriers.
Obese as well as elderly ‘need nursing transition support’
“Given increasing obesity rates, healthcare delivery systems must be prepared to provide necessary resources and all levels of care, including transitions for hospitalised patients who are severely obese needing nursing home care post-discharge,” they said in the Western Journal of Nursing Research.
Failure to move very obese patients out of hospitals into post-acute care had the potential to lead to poor outcomes associated with extended hospital stays, noted the researchers.
Lead-study author Dr Christine Bradway, associate professor of gerontological nursing, said: “Understanding the unique nursing and transitional care needs of patients who are severely obese and optimising their transitional care experiences is an increasingly relevant area of study.”