QUEENSLAND medicos are training with the world's largest "bariatric dummies" weighing up to 260kg to ensure they can handle the state's largest people.
Such is the scale of the problem in Queensland that those of a healthy size or weight are now described as "small patients".
It is not a new challenge for the state's major hospitals, with planning for the emerging obesity epidemic going back five years at some institutions..
Princess Alexandra Hospital in south Brisbane has spent $400,000 since 2008 on equipment that can handle the size and weight of "bariatric patients".
Prince Charles Hospital in the city's north now uses beds capable of handling 250kg patients - 10 years ago the maximum was 150kg.
These include specialised wheelchairs, beds, hoists, scales, shower chairs, wheelie walkers, blood pressure cuffs and even compression stockings.
Princess Alexandra also has a "Bariatric Advisory Committee" with a variety of clinical minds "dedicated to the advancement of knowledge and capability of bariatric medicine".
It was formed in 2008, once hospital management realised the what it took to deal with the very heavy.
The issue remains "very high on the agenda" for the hospital, according to executive director Dr Stephen Ayre.
"Obesity is now recognised as the fastest growing health problem in the developed world," he said.
"If current trends continue, more than 60% of Queensland adults, or 3.7 million people, will be overweight or obese by 2020."
Prince Charles Hospital acting director of nursing Cherie Franks said patients can be too big for MRIs or other equipment if they exceed a "safe working limit" set by manufacturers.
It was an experience shared by Dr Ayre.
"In these cases, the best available alternative or clinical strategy us used," Dr Ayre said.
He said hospital procedures were dedicated to caring for bariatric patients, included specific training for staff.
The dummy is used to ensure staff know how to shift the obese without injuring themselves.
One company that offers the 260kg dummy, describes it as the "Bariatric Extreme Model".
The $4150 mannequin comes with a pair of XL-sized pyjamas.
The logistics of moving, transporting and treating the obese is not a problem faced by hospitals alone
Last week APN reported how Queensland Ambulance Service had previously spent more than $1 million to buy four "Specialised Transport Retrieval Units" - oversized ambulances that can lift and carry up to 500kg.
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.