Weight-Based Dosing Errors Potential for Harm

  • February 27, 2019

Eliminating Risks Associated with Units Transposition Through Metric Lock-out Settings

​One of the most prevalent but unknown killers in the healthcare system is medical error. A May 2016 British Medical Journal (BMJ) study published data over an eight-year period showing that the third leading cause of death in the United States is medical error—directly after heart disease and cancer. This analysis suggests that a total of 250,000 patient deaths a year are preventable. Additionally, The Leapfrog Group—a healthcare quality and safety group—estimates that “employers waste $8,000 per inpatient admission on the costs of avoidable errors.” Clearly, medical error is a matter of serious importance.

More specifically, improper dosage of medication tends to be a highly recurrent problem that is classified under the problem of medical error. Improper dosing can contribute to grave or life-threatening conditions that can be entirely avoided. A November 2004 study in Applied Nursing Research conducted by Michele Balas found that 24% of medication errors reported were the wrong dosage. A January/February 2006 study featured in the Journal of Professional Nursing found that 17% of medical administration errors were attributed to improper dosage. A highly publicized case of improper dosage was the accidental overdose of Dennis Quaid’s twin children, Thomas and Zoe. Both were given 1,000 times the intended dosage of a blood thinner due to a mistake in application of medication concentration. Fortunately, both children were released and suffered no adverse health effects.

There are a few reasons for misdiagnosing a patient’s weight. Many times there are errors caused in the transposition of weights taken in the incorrect unit of measurement. Occasionally, a patient’s weight is only estimated rather than procuring their actual weight from an official weighing on a calibrated and accurate scale. Sometimes a patient might be too large for a standard capacity scale which can lead to a weight estimation, instead of an accurate reading.

Serving patient dosages with incorrect weights can lead to complications. Inaccurate weighing for children can lead to dire consequences generally due to reformulation from adult dosages, an exponential effect that improper dosing has on smaller patients, and the fact that smaller children might have trouble communicating complications from medications they have received. Adults can also experience complications from dosage reformulation, and older patients and those with compromised immune systems can receive more pronounced issues due to complications. Dosage reformulation is altering a dosage to meet a patient’s height, weight, age, or possible clinical conditions.

DETECTO has developed weighing solutions to prevent situations like the aforementioned from becoming a reality. DETECTO manufactures metric only and metric lock-out scales for medical professionals to aid in gaining accurate patient weights in the correct unit of measurement that is widely used in healthcare facilities. This standardization of unit measurement can dissipate any misinterpretations and miscalculations caused by converting units of measurement.

DETECTO’s renowned weigh beam eye-level physician scales offer several models that come standard with metric-only weighing readouts. The mechanical weigh beam models 2391, 2371, 2381, and 2491 possess the timeless design and functionality DETECTO exemplifies while giving healthcare professionals a metric-only scale. For high-humidity applications, the 2391S and 2371S models are made with stainless steel and are metric only. DETECTO’s 451, 6745KG, and 8435KG are great metric only options for baby weighing, while the AP-4KD features a metric only scale for weighing wet diapers. For ease of use at home, the D350K and D1130K bathroom scales offer a useful metric option. The 4851 and 4951 wheelchair scales are popular metric only items for use in hospitals, and the 6475K chair scale is also available in metric only designation.

Metric lock-out options are another great tool to prevent misdiagnosis in unit selection. Many of DETECTO’s bariatric, wheelchair, and physician scales feature a metric lock-out option. The models 6855, 6856, and 6868 bariatric scales with handrails present the metric lock-out option. DETECTO’s popular eye-level digital scales such as the solo®, apex®, and icon® models all have the capability of metric lock-out. Users select kilograms or pounds units of measure when they turn on these scales for the first time as they’re unpacking them. This alleviates units of measure confusion in future use. To cover larger platform sizes, the 6550 and BRW1000 portable wheelchair scales and 6495 and 7550 stationary wheelchair scales are also a few models that are lock-out capable as well. DETECTO’s Solace in-floor dialysis scales can also be set for metric lock-out to standardize units of measure in a clinical facility.

Improper dosing can be improved by eliminating risks associated with unit transposition, weight estimation, or lack of accurate weight measurements. DETECTO offers results for the medical community to simplify and streamline the weighing of patients, while aiding in correct dosing of patients.

​Eliminating Risks Associated with Units Transposition Through Metric Lock-out Settings
DETECTO manufactures metric only and metric lock-out scales for patient dosages

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