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ASTNA is always looking for ways to help improve the industry and what better way than through research. If you are working on a research study and are interested in ASTNA members participating, please contact the ASTNA office at 303.344.0457 or Please see below for results from recent research studies that ASTNA members have participated in. 


Clinical Barriers in the Helicopter Transport of Obese Patients

Jennifer Norris and Jessica Johnson would like to thank the board and members of ASTNA for supporting and participating in our research study. Your responses and experiences provided a great deal of information that can be utilized to improve the safety and clinical practice of HEMS transport of obese patients. We appreciate your time, your opinions and your dedication. 

            The purpose of this study was to identify if clinical or safety barriers existed in the transport of obese patients during HEMS transport. A qualitative, descriptive study was designed utilizing responses from current and former HEMS providers. An anonymous survey was sent to current members of the Air & Surface Transport Nurses Association (ASTNA) and the International Association of Flight and Critical Care Paramedics (IAFCCP).

            Researchers received over three hundred (300) responses to the survey from a variety of HEMS programs representing multiple states and countries.  There was a balance of responses from both nurses and paramedics with most respondents having at least 10 years HEMS transport experience. Evaluation of the data received showed that HEMS providers both anticipate and experience clinical and safety related barriers when providing care and transport of the obese patient.  Among the top clinical and safety related concerns identified by respondents were difficulty lifting or moving the patient (81%), difficulty positioning the patient for optimal patient care (75%) and concerns related to airway management, oxygenation, and ventilation (80%). Additional concerns included the ability to perform CPR, complete advanced procedures, and the ability to obtain vascular access.

            Researchers believe that the data obtained from this study support the hypothesis that clinical and safety related barriers exist in the treatment of obese patients during HEMS transport. Current patient weight restrictions based on equipment limitations do not account for potential clinical and safety considerations in determining appropriate transport decisions. Further evaluation of the clinical barriers described in this study is necessary to improve clinical standards and protocols, mitigate risk, and enhance utilization of best care practices.  


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Air & Surface Transport Nurses Association
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