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Patient Transfer Scale: 8 best practice steps for weighing immobile patients

Patient Transfer Scale: 8 best practice steps for weighing immobile patients

The Patient Transfer Scale is so easy to use when you need a quick weight for immobile patients, because it’s used in just the same way as you would a transfer board or transfer slide.

It’s important, though, to remember that the PTS is a weighing scale too, and a few pointers on technique will make all the difference when getting your weight reading.

1. Getting the PTS to your patient

Many nurses compare the PTS to standard transfer slides, which will always be lighter. The Patient Transfer Scale weighs 11.4kg - heavier than any transfer board or slide you’ll likely have used before, but bear in mind that the PTS has 16 loadcells inside for precision weighing.

Rather than comparing it to a transfer board, compare it to other methods of weighing immobile patients.

For example, a weighing bed is not as practical and flexible, and a hoist weighing attachment and hoist is cumbersome and time-consuming to use.

At 11.4kg the PTS is light enough to be carried by one person. However, we recommend two people carry it - due to its size and, when you are ready to weigh your patient, for lifting it onto the bed or trolley.

2. Slide sheets will make the transfer easier

We always insist using slide sheets for the transfer process - ideally, two. Gillian Taylor, Inventor of the Patient Transfer Scale, says:

“Using slide sheets for the transfer process makes lateral movement of the patient much easier. Use two - one to place across the PTS before you begin the transfer, and one around the patient themselves.

“This way, you will have slide sheet moving against slide sheet. You’ll find the patient is much easier to move from one trolley or bed to the other, across the PTS, this way.”

3. Ensure you have enough staff for patient transfer

“We always say to customers, refer to your own manual handling and patient transfer guidelines,” says Gillian.

“The aim at the end of the day is to get a weight for the patient as they are transferred from trolley to bed, without any extra staff or processes required, so bear this in mind when using the PTS.”

4. Keep the PTS level during the transfer

With the slide sheet over the PTS, and the patient rolled onto their side ready for the transfer, position the PTS so that it bridges the gap between the trolleys/beds, whilst at the same time positioning the board as far under the patient’s spine and buttocks as comfortably possible.

Positioning the PTS in such a way means that, when the patient is rolled back onto the board, they will be little effort required to move them into the middle of the board.

5. Make sure the two surfaces are level

It’s important to note at this point that the two surfaces (the bed or trolley the patient is on, and the destination trolley or bed) are as level as possible.

Two level surfaces will make the transfer much easier, but more importantly, will result in a more accurate weight reading.

“For a scale to weigh accurately, it must be on a level surface,” says Gillian. “The PTS has a built-in tilt sensor, which means that if the board is tilted by more than 3%, the display will show ‘ErrA’ instead or providing an inaccurate reading.”

This is no cause for concern, though. “Even if you are halfway through a transfer, and the patient is on the scale when the ErrA message shows, don’t panic,” says Gillian. “Simply level off the PTS as much as possible by adjusting the height of the trolley or bed and the weight reading will show.”

“Some users think that ErrA message means they need to stop and start the transfer process again. This is not the case - as long as you level the scale back off it will give you your accurate weight reading.”

6. Ensure the patient is on the scale when you take the weight

Roll the patient back onto the scale, and then use the slide sheets to position them as centrally on the scale as possible.

The weight reading will be more accurate if the patient is positioned correctly on the scale and arms and legs are not resting on the bed or trolley.

Gillian says: “If you can, fold the patient’s arms across their chest. If the patient is taller than the board, legs can overhang but they must overhang the bed or trolley too. Resting legs - or arms - on the trolley or bed will affect weighing accuracy.

“Alternatively, you can bend their legs at the knee.”

7. Stop to take the weight reading

When transferring the patient as you would with a standard transfer board, it’s easy to forget that brief pause to take the weight.

As soon as the patient is placed centrally on the scale, check the weight display, and shout it to colleagues to record it if required.

If you wish, you can press Hold to stabilise the reading on the display, but in an emergency situation you may want to focus more on the speed of the transfer.

8. Return the scale to its charging point

When the transfer process is complete and you have your weight, we recommend returning the PTS to its charging point as soon as is reasonably possible.

The PTS is supplied with hooks for hanging on the wall, and these should be positioned close to a socket so the scale can be plugged in and charged when not in use.

“Don’t worry about unplugging the charger in an emergency situation,” says Gillian. “The end of the charger that plugs into the back of the PTS is magnetic. This means, if the scale is pulled away from its charging point when it’s needed quickly, the charging cable will just disconnect without being damaged.”

Remember, too, that the PTS is not a stretcher and should never be used as one. “It’s a robust scale built for demanding use, but it should still be treated with care and respect,” concludes Gillian. "Follow these guidelines, ensure it is serviced a minimum of once a year and your PTS will provide years of accurate weighing exactly when you need it - to administer drugs and treatment quickly and accurately.”

More information

To find out more about the Patient Transfer Scale and how to use it for weighing immobile patients, watch the animated video below. Or, contact the Marsden team here, and we can provide help, guidance and tips on using the PTS.

You can follow Gillian Taylor on Twitter - @gilliantaym999.