Patient Safety Topics
:
Weight Accuracy
Overview

Patient weight is an essential component to patient information, particularly in regard to the calculation of administered medication dosages. In September 2018, the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority issued the "Final Recommendation to Ensure Accurate Patient Weights" in licensed acute care facilities in the Commonwealth.

Key Data and Statistics

Healthcare practitioners require a current, accurate patient weight because weight is often used to determine an appropriate medication dose. When errors occur during the process of obtaining, documenting, and communicating and using a patient’s weight, the dose of a medication can be dangerously incorrect. Analysts reviewed event reports relating to patient weight submitted to the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority through the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Reporting System from December 2008 through November 2015 (see following figures). Of the 1,291 event reports related to patient weights, the majority of errors reached the patient (74.8%, n = 966) and the most common factors involved were documented weight too high (23.8%, n = 307), confusion between pounds and kilograms (23.2%, n = 300), and documented weight too low (14.9%, n = 192).

Figure 1. Harm Scores for Events Involving Incorrect Patient Weights, December 2008 through November 2015 (N = 1,291)

Figure 2. Care Areas Most Commonly Reported in Events Involving Incorrect Patient Weights, December 2008 through November 2015 (N = 1,291)

Figure 3. Most Common Medications Involved in Events Related to Incorrect Patient Weights, December 2008 through November 2015 (N = 1,291)

 

Figure 4. Types of Error Involving Incorrect Patient Weights, December 2008 through November 2015 (N = 1,291)

Excerpted from: Bailey BR, Gaunt MJ, Grissinger M. Update on medication errors associated with incorrect patient weights. Pa Pat Saf Advis 2016 Jun [cited 2018 Sep 7]. http://patientsafety.pa.gov/ADVISORIES/Pages/201606_50.aspx.

Educational Tools

​Metric-Based Weight Recommendations: Facility Checklist
The Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority issued recommendations to licensed acute care facilities regarding accuracy of information involving patient weights. This checklist includes questions that facilities can use, for example, to determine whether metric scales are available in patient care locations.

Multimedia

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Safety Tips for Patients

 

©2018 Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority