Q: Do obese patients require higher energy levels for defibrillation?

A: Jennifer McFarlane, RN, MSN, CCRN, CNRN, CNS, replies:

Several different aspects of defibrillation need to be considered in order to answer this question. Which patients are classified as obese is important, as well as the degree of obesity. Next the clinician requires an understanding of how defibrillators work, and why an obese person might require a different level of current than would someone who is not obese. Finally, the type of waveform that the defibrillator uses to deliver its energy must also be considered in determining the appropriate selection of energy level.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that about 33% of Americans are obese. There has been a dramatic increase in obesity in the United States in the past 25 years. Patients who are obese are at higher...

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