Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Hospitals hiring weight-guessers? Or is there a better solution?

Image from Wellness Corporate Solutions via Flickr
Ever seen someone offering to guess your weight at a carnival? It's been a while for me.

Maybe we need to hire some of those folks for hospital work - when knowing someone's weight means administering the correct amount of a drug that could bring you back from a stroke, or put you in danger - at least partly depending on how the accuracy of your weight in its calculation.

Recently, some research shows that weight guesses for stroke treatment are often wrong:
"Relying on our ability to 'guess' the weight of a patient in the acute setting is no longer acceptable and potentially dangerous," Pankaj Sharma, MD, PhD, from the Institute for Cardiovascular Research at the University of London, told Reuters Health.
The recommended dose of alteplase (recombinant tissue-type plasminogen activator [r-tPA]) is 0.9 mg/kg, up to a maximum dose of 90 mg. In the interest of time, clinicians often estimate patients' weights to determine the r-tPA dose. ...
"I think it is clinically inappropriate now for any ER department to not have a single bed which can automatically weigh a patient," Sharma said. "I would struggle to think of an alternative intervention for acute stroke that could benefit so many people, at so little cost, in so short a time."
Roland Bingisser, MD, from University Hospital, Basel, Switzerland, told Reuters Health by email, "As we authored a similar paper on weight estimation in acute situations, we were surprised that self-estimations by patients were not considered. Even in stroke, the majority of patients will be able to answer simple questions, such as their bodyweight."
A couple of actual points, aside from the joking reference of hospitals hiring weight-guessers: (1) it's important to be willing to be with someone who has had a stroke, especially if you have key information that might help in treatment and (2) if you have had a stroke and are able to speak, don't be shy about your weight; speak out about it.

If the hospital has a bed that accurately weighs the patient, that's great. But if at all possible, weigh in on the patient's weight!


Kari said...

Thank you for shining light on this issue - many people are not aware of it.
And it's such a simple solution for a very real problem.

Jeff Porter said...

Thanks, Kari. It's one of those things I haven't thought about much, but you're right - it's too important to ignore.