ShareThis Page
Health

Hospitals urged to weigh patients in kilograms to avoid errors

Wes Venteicher
| Friday, Sept. 14, 2018, 3:18 p.m.

Patients stepping on hospital scales in Pennsylvania could start seeing much smaller numbers if hospitals heed a new Patient Safety Authority recommendation to use kilograms instead of pounds when weighing patients.

The authority has recommended all hospitals switch to metric scales to avoid mistakes measuring out doses of medicine, which in some cases are based on a person’s weight. Errors dosing chemotherapy drugs, blood thinners and other pharmaceuticals can make treatment less effective or put patients in danger, said Michelle Bell, director of outreach and education for the authority.

“It can really either cause sub-therapeutic issues or overdose issues,” Bell said.

The pronouncement, issued Sept. 8, is the first formal recommendation the authority has made since its 2002 inception, she said.

The authority received 1,291 reports of errors related to patient weights from December 2008 through November 2015, according to data on its website. Three hundred of the reports involved confusion between pounds and kilograms, according to the data. Eleven of those caused harm to patients, with one contributing to a death, Bell said.

The authority published articles in 2009 and 2016 on the errors, but the error rates didn’t drop after the articles so the authority took the step of making a formal recommendation, Bell said.

The state Department of Health supports the recommendation and encourages doctors and hospitals to follow it, a department spokesman said.

The authority recommended hospitals consider providing charts for patients to convert their weights to pounds, Bell said.

Wes Venteicher is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Wes at 412-380-5676, wventeicher@tribweb.com or via Twitter @wesventeicher.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me