Pediatric obesity and safety in inpatient settings: a systematic literature review

Clin Pediatr (Phila). 2014 Sep;53(10):975-87. doi: 10.1177/0009922814533406. Epub 2014 May 6.


Objective: Pediatric obesity affects more than 16% of American children and is associated with worse outcomes in hospitalized patients. A systematic literature review was performed to identify studies of adverse care events affecting obese pediatric patients in the emergency room, operating room, or inpatient wards.

Evidence review: We systematically searched Medline for articles published from 1970 to 2013 regarding obesity and patient safety events in pediatric acute care settings. We determined the study design, number of patients studied, definition and prevalence of obesity, the relevant acute care setting, the specific association with obesity addressed, and the results of each study.

Results and conclusion: Thirty-four studies documented both procedural complications and issues with general hospital care. Most were retrospective and focused on surgery or anesthesia. Obese patients may have increased risk for a variety of adverse events. Further study could improve institutional patient safety guidelines to enhance care for obese children.

Keywords: inpatient; obesity; pediatric; safety; surgery.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Body Mass Index
  • Child
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Humans
  • Inpatients / statistics & numerical data*
  • Operating Rooms / statistics & numerical data*
  • Patient Safety*
  • Patients' Rooms / statistics & numerical data*
  • Pediatric Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Tertiary Care Centers
  • United States / epidemiology