The bariatric trauma patients journey – roadside to bedside

Cherylynn Mcgurgan1, Sally Campbell1, Susan Harding1

1Melbourne Health, Melbourne, Australia

Emergency Department Clinicians are confronted daily with complex and difficult trauma cases each with its own set of problems.   Bariatric patients presenting with any medical condition are a challenge for Emergency Departments. This is particularly the case with a hemodynamically unstable bariatric multi – trauma patient, who is required to be nursed in full spinal precautions.

Bariatric patients are defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as patients who are overweight, obese and morbidly obese, as classified by Body Mass Index (BMI)

This presentation will follow the journey of a morbidly obese bariatric multi-trauma patient, with a BMI in excess of 43 from the roadside to the bedside:

  • It will identify the challenges this patient presented in providing the specialised care he needed, including the patient factors, equipment and staff resources.
  • It will describe this patient’s journey, and the interventions we used to manage this patients care.
  • It will discuss the gaps we identified in specialised equipment required to care for this patient.
  • It will describe how we have addressed the gaps identified and the processes we have put in place to manage future Bariatric trauma patients.

In conclusion: The multi injured bariatric trauma patient presents a unique set of challenges in the provision of emergency care.  We identify some important gaps in the currently available equipment and clinical practice guidelines required to care for these patients. Lastly, we describe our approach to addressing the gaps identified and how we plan to manage these patients in future.


Clinical Nurse Specialist and Equipment Nurse RMH Emergency Department, Regional coordinator for EMST  at the Royal Australasian college of surgeons