Identification and Management of Obese Patients in a Pediatric Orthopaedic Clinic

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Childhood obesity is a complex healthcare problem that affects all aspects of a child's health. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Expert Committee recommends that all children be evaluated for current medical conditions including the risk for obesity by identifying elevated body mass index (BMI), physical activity habits, and diet. Childhood obesity is defined as a BMI of 95th percentile or greater on standardized age-based growth charts. Abdominal and visceral fat mass has a negative effect on bone formation during childhood and adolescence. Effective interventions are aimed at prevention and treatment and include collection and assessment of obesity, eating habits, physical activity, and family history. At a local outpatient pediatric orthopaedic practice, few patients had a diagnosis of childhood obesity and weight management varied by providers.


The purpose of this quality improvement project was to improve identification of obese children and increase referrals to a weight management program.


Setting: A hospital-affiliated pediatric orthopaedic clinic staffed with 3 orthopaedic surgeons and 2 nurse practitioners. Population: 6- to 18-year-olds with a BMI of greater than 95th percentile (N = 239). Data Collection: Electronic medical record chart review for documented obesity and referral to weight management program: Intervention: Provider educational in-service reviewing management guidelines and referral process.


Average percentages of documented obesity diagnosis increased from 11% to 53%. The number of referrals to Heart Healthy weight management program increased by 400%.


An educational-based intervention in a pediatric orthopaedic clinic was effective in increasing the number of patients with a diagnosis of obesity and referred to a weight management program.

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