Paramedics put at risk by obese patients

PARAMEDICS are risking serious injury as they attempt to lift or manouvre increasingly heavy patients, according to a Queensland law firm.

In one case, Brisbane law firm Trilby Misso describes how a paramedic has suffered neck and shoulder injuries after trying to lift a 120kg patient on a stretcher and into an ambulance.

According to the Heart Foundation, a 120kg man is considered at the lowest level of obesity if he is 200cm tall.

Lawyer Viktoria Stachelek said those caring for "morbidly obese patients" could be at risk of injury.

"It is also a problem that a weight of around 120kg is being considered "normal" for some patients and unfortunately many more ambulance officers are suffering injuries as a result of this."

Ms Stachelek said ambulances in Britian were now fitted with specialised lifting equipment that reduced the need for paramedics to have to lift patients.

She said ambulance services were in "the frontline" of dealing with the obesity epidemic, but proper equiment could protect paramedics from injury.

A Queensland Ambulance Service spokesman said he could not comment on any particular claim but that QAS took the safety of both paramedics and patients seriously.

He said there were Workplace Health and Safety procedures in place to help care for those overweight or obese patients, including a full day of specific training.

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