In the USA only every third person in hospital is of normal weight. In Germany the situation is not that bad but the people get thicker here, too. In 1999 56 percent of the grown-up men and 40 percent ot the women were of heavy weight, in 2005 it gone up two percent. Altogether 9 Million people are overweighted. They have a Body Mass Index above 25.
Heavy patients become a real challenge for the clinics and doctors. Hospitals have to upgrade their possibilities, but most of them do not have the financial capital.
New buildings calculate very heavy persons within their concepts. The university-clinic Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE) move into a new building next year and in the meantime renew the operating-rooms. Conventional operating-tables are build for persons about 150 kilos, the UKE will have about 16 op-tables with a load of 250 kilos. One will cope with up to 500 kilos.
To alleviate the burden for doctors, nursing-staff and medical equipment hospitals need a special environment: Solid beds and special operating tables, that do not break down that easy, oversized CT- or MRT-units, bigger blood pressure meters, special motor-powered equipment to lift the patients out of their beds, and a lot more.
But not every hospital is able to afford this investments. „Acquisitions of this kind are amazingly expensive and not profitable for the clinics“, says Peter Fischer, head of department at the Eduardus hospital in Cologne. Companies also recognize this problem and make it possible to lease for example extra large beds for the needed time. At the Eduardus hospital they avail this possibility.
But the walls of the clinics moans under a big pressure. Structural measures are necessary to fulfill the demands of the heavy weight persons. „Our toiletts are fixed on the walls, they never bear 250 kilos“, comments Fischer. But who should pay that? Hospitals get a special day rate from the federal state and they have to cope with it. „The proportion of the federal state has to raise, otherwise the options for the hospitals are very bounded. The finance-plan only covers the daily business“, says Fischer. „Minor acquisition like bigger blood-preasure machines are no problem, but only one extra large bed cost a few thousand euros.“
The problems that come up to the hospital equipment by overweight persons is well-known, but very heavy persons are still an exception. „We can handle everybody till 150 kilos without any problems. Maybe we have 10 cases a year that go beyond this“, mentions Fischer. And if there are really heavy cases it is possible to cooperate with the animal hospital and the fire department.
Fischer says: „You still have to qualify the problem with the overweight persons. The propotion of spending money for this group is dispropotionate to the number of patients who uses this equipment yet. Maybe the situation is different at university hospitals. But we all know that a change is absolutely necessary.“