Monday 26 September 2016

Some equipment in Irish hospitals not large enough to take proper scans of obese patients - report

Eilish O'Regan, Health Correspondent

Published 12/10/2015 | 09:36

They are even lacking enough bigger trolleys and beds needed for the obese patients to lie on comfortably and with dignity.
They are even lacking enough bigger trolleys and beds needed for the obese patients to lie on comfortably and with dignity.

MANY hospitals are struggling to take proper scans or measure the blood pressure of obese patients because their equipment is not large enough, a new report warns today.

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They are even lacking enough bigger trolleys and beds needed for the obese patients to lie on comfortably and with dignity.

The warning is made by an expert group on how to clinically manage and treat obesity in new policy report from the Royal College of Physicians.

It highlights how doctors are having difficulties assessing and taking the vital signs of obese patients because the blood pressure cuffs they put around patients' arms are not large enough.There are also weight restrictions on scanning devices such as CT and MRI machines.

Problems also can arise when they need to get access to the patient's vein and hook them up to tubes.

Obesity expert, Prof Donal O'Shea, who is co-chair of the expert group of a range of specialists said the need for hospitals,including the new national children's hospital and proposed new maternity hospitals, to be adequately equipped to properly treat obese patients is essential.

When the new national children's hospital is up and running it should be able to provide gastric bypass, weight loss surgery, to children, it says.

One in four children here is overweight or obese.Last week's Healthy Ireland survey which showed obesity rates are levelling off in adults did not include children.

Prof O'Shea said:"The youngest age at which this kind of surgery can be performed is eight.It is only available here to people over 18 but Irish teenagers have been referred abroad."

Children's weight should be traced at ages two, five and also at different stages up to the age of 17 years.

survey showed obesity rates are levelling off in adults it comes at a high base, he warned. Six in ten are overweight or obese.

The report recommends that specialist weight management services be available in all hospital groups across the country and expanded outside the limited clinics currently only available in Dublin and in Galway.

Prof O Shea has a waiting list of 960 who need to be seen at his clinic in St Columcille's Hospital in Dublin and 130 waiting for weight-loss surgery.

Although the new EU scheme would allow them apply to go abroad for the surgery it is still too expensive because the HSE insists they pay the costs upfront before getting reimbursed later on.

The report which makes a range of recommendations also said couples who are planning to become parents should both have their weight checked by a doctor in advance.

Prof O Shea says it applies equally to men who intend to become fathers. Weight impacts on the quality of the sperm.The parents' weight impacts on the lifestyle the children is born into, he pointed out.

"Every contact counts in terms of weight," he added.Doctors should also make better use of commercial organisations like Weight Watchers and refer patients on to them, the report said.

The report also warns that healthcare professionals here are not sufficiently trained in detecting, treating and managing obesity.

The HSE should adopt a national clinical lead in obesity.This would be a working doctor, with expertise in this area, who would direct obesity services generally.These clinical leads are already in place for range of diseases like diabetes.

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