Bariatric patients

New Zealand is following the worldwide trend of increased rates of population obesity. Recent OCED figures estimate that 1 in 3 New Zealanders are obese, with the 3rd highest prevalence of obesity in the world (behind USA and Mexico)1

Managing obese trauma patients can present specific challenges to the trauma provider and hospital system.

Bariatric patients tend to have less severe injuries (according to scoring systems), but have a higher overall mortality (increased in hospital complications, longer ICU length of stay, increased ventilator days).2

Injury patterns can be different as well3

  • Increase in incidence of extremity, chest and pelvis injuries
  • Decrease in incidence of head and intraabdominal injures


bariatric 2a






  1. Bochicchio GV, Joshi M, Bochicchio K, Nehman S, Tracy JK, Scalea TM. Impact of obesity in the critically ill trauma patient: a prospective study. Journal of the American College of Surgeons. 2006 Oct 31;203(4):533-8.


  1. Boulanger BR, Milzman D, Mitchell K, Rodriguez A. Body habitus as a predictor of injury pattern after blunt trauma. Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery. 1992 Aug 1;33(2):228-32.


About this guideline

Published: January 2018

Author: Emma Batistich

Approved by: Northern Region Trauma Network, ADHB, WDHB, CMDHB, NDHB

Review due: 2 years