Monday, November 22, 2010

Weight and tPA - potentially critical combination

Never thought of this, but this could be a weighty matter - for real. Often, stroke patients have trouble speaking or can't speak at all. But also often, it's important for physicians to know the weight of the patient.

Ran across this story about how faulty estimates of patient weight affect tPA dose:

Stroke patients are frequently unable to communicate their weight due to aphasia or decreased consciousness. tPA is given on a milligram per kilogram basis, but there often is not the time or the equipment in the emergency department to verify a patient's weight and determine the correct drug dose. Physicians therefore often rely on "eyeballing" or visual estimation.

"Dosing itself is really crucial for the activity of tPA, and overdosing may be not as useful as the correct dose, and underdosing may cause harm to the patient," said Dr. [Martin] Köhrmann [associate professor of neurology at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany]. "This, together with the situation where we don't have the correct weight information, is really concerning."
While my Missouri driver's license displays my weight, not sure that (a) those are always accurate and (b) that's a universal standard for driver's licenses across the globe or even in the U.S. Another good argument for keeping better electronic health records.

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