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The importance of weighing patients on admission to hospital

The importance of weighing patients on admission to hospital

An accurate assessment can monitor the extent of loss in organ function, judge the effectiveness of medications and enable calculations of medical dosages.

However, in many cases weighing a patient on admission to hospital is not easy.



Why can weighing patients be difficult?

All patients should be weighed, but weighing people who are critically ill, suffered a stroke or are immobile can be difficult.

According to North West Wales NHS Trust’s clinical audit on ‘Weighing of Patients on admission to hospital’, the greatest barriers to weighing are severe pain, poor mobility and lack of appropriate equipment.

A study by Charani et al conducted by three teaching hospitals in West London found that, as a result, as many as 46% of patients admitted to hospital did not have a weight recorded.

Another study, by Hilmer et al, found that fewer than 30% of patients were even being weighed at all – despite prescribed medication that required weight-based dosages.



Why should patients be weighed?

An accurate weight reading means patients are correctly assessed, and means the correct medication can be prescribed.

However, according to a study of 242 stroke patients who received a recombinant tissue plasminogen activator (rtPA) dose based on weight, 19.7% received an inappropriate dose, according to Pharmacy Times.

From when a patient enters an emergency department, there is limited time to administer rtPA. These time pressures force weight to be estimated.

Barrow et al said: “Clinicians are poor at approximating the weights of patients with stroke in the acute setting, especially when patients lie at the extremes of weight. Beds capable of weighing patients should be mandated in emergency rooms for patients with acute stroke.”

The errors also occur when weighing immobile patients. Weighing these patients can cause stress so sometimes it is avoided by staff.

A report by Darnis states, “In adult hospitalised patients, the estimation of body weight by anthropomorphic measures is not accurate. This supports the need for equipment to be made widely available to accurately weigh patients directly in hospital, including in unconscious and immobile patients.”



What are the solutions for weighing patients on admission to hospital?

The solutions available for weighing patients on admission are bed scales, hoist weighing scales and pit mounted scales.

Bed scales are easy to use and suitable for most patients. A bed can be rolled onto the bed weighing scale’s pads (the M-950 is a good example). The Preset Tare function can be set up to remove the weight of the bed, therefore the indicator will only display the patient’s weight.

However bed scales also have limitations, most notably the time it takes to set them up. If the patient is suffering from certain conditions or injuries it can be difficult to transfer the patient to the bed, then back to a standing position, into a wheelchair or onto a trolley for transportation in the hospital.

Pit mounted scales are built into the hospital floor. A bed can be wheeled onto the scale and the weight of the bed can be deducted using the Tare function - leaving just the patient’s weight. When not in use the scale will lie in situ, meaning the space can be used for other tasks. When the scale is needed again, it is easy to begin weighing again.

Alternatively, a hoist weighing scale is typically used for weighing patients who cannot stand. They clip with ease onto the spreader bars of the hoist. Marsden hoist scales are suitable for weighing patients up to 200kg.



The ‘ideal’ solution for weighing immobile patients

The ideal solution for weighing patients on admission to hospital, when they are immobile or time critical, is one that is easy to use, is dignified and stress free for the patient, and adds little or no time to the admission process.

Whilst bed scales, hoist scales and pit mounted trolley scales all have their merits, Marsden is currently working on a weighing scale that improves the weighing process and saves time when immobile and time critical patients are admitted to hospital. We’ll be releasing more details about this in the coming weeks.

If you need to speak to us about weighing scales for Emergency Departments, weighing scales for weighing hospital patients on admission, or weighing scales that help reduce your door to needle time, please call Marsden on 01709 364296 or contact us here.


Alternatively, browse our full range of medical weighing scales here.