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Physicians on Treadmills Diagnose with Accuracy, Says Mayo Doc

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, July 25, 2013

The biggest question he's asked concerns corporate liability, which he quickly adds is a non-issue. Operation requires no more strenuous activity than slowly walking down a hallway in a straight line—these desks don't go more than 3 miles per hour—but if companies are concerned, those who want to use treadmill desks can sign the same waiver they would for the company gym.

"People who are overweight actually have more slips, trips and falls in the workplace anyway, forget about the treadmill," he says.

Levine says that he's asked by companies and government agencies across the country about liability concerns, and that's always been his response. "I've never heard back that [it] wasn't the right answer; and we at Mayo have never had a problem."

It's Levine's and his team's research on the use of treadmill desks in medical settings, however, that intrigued me enough to write this column.

Healthcare workers are not immune to the metabolic maladies sweeping the country, especially if their jobs —as radiologists or pathologists or administrative/clerical personnel require sitting and reading for long hours, Levine says.

Of course, a key question is whether providers can be as precise while moving as they are while seated. Studies by Levine and Mayo colleagues, and others, now conclude that accuracy rates are not compromised when work is done while walking. Not only that, he adds, the providers' cardiovascular systems are undoubtedly healthier.

Levine's line of research is not without its critics, some of whom have tried to trip up published findings by members of his team.

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