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AANA J. 2016 Dec;84(6):404-412.

A Patient Safety Dilemma: Obesity in the Surgical Patient.

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Duke University School of Nursing, Durham, North Carolina.
University of Virginia School of Nursing, Charlottesville, Virginia.


Patient safety and the delivery of quality care are major concerns for healthcare in the United States. Special populations (eg, obese patients) need study in order to support patient safety, quantify risks, advance education for healthcare-workers, and establish healthcare policy. Obesity is a complex chronic disease and is considered the second leading cause of preventable death in the United States with approximately 300,000 deaths per year. Obesity is recognized by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) as a comorbid condition. These concerns emphasize the need to focus further research on the obese patient. Through the use of clinical and administrative data, this study examines the incidence of adverse outcomes in the obese surgical population through AHRQ Patient Safety Indicators (PSI) and allows for the engagement PSIs as measures to guide and improve performance. In this study, the surgical population was overwhelmingly positive for obesity. Body mass index (BMI) was also a significant positive predictor for 2 of 3 postoperative outcomes. This finding suggests that as BMI reaches the classification of obesity, the risk of these adverse outcomes increases. It further suggests there exists a threshold BMI that requires anticipation of alterations to systems and processes to revise outcomes.


AHRQ; obesity; patient safety; patient safety indicators; secondary data analysis

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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