Patient safety incidents associated with obesity: a review of reports to the National Patient Safety Agency and recommendations for hospital practice.
The obesity epidemic is considered an urgent public health issue in Europe and the United States. Although morbidly obese patients are prone to a variety of medical issues, no study to date has evaluated patient safety risks in this population. This retrospective analysis of errors voluntarily reported to the United Kingdom's National Patient Safety Agency documents more than 380 errors and near misses in which obesity was considered a contributing factor. The majority of errors were partly attributable to inadequate equipment for caring for such patients, particularly in the surgical and critical care environments. Based on these data, the authors advocate for multidisciplinary approaches to systematizing care for morbidly obese patients. The challenges of caring for obese patients are discussed in an AHRQ WebM&M commentary, which examined a case of an ultimately fatal delayed diagnosis in a morbidly obese woman.