PATIENT SAFETY: Consider the accuracy of height and weight measurements
Phyllis Hart Tipton PhD, RN
Mary J. Aigner PhD, RN, FNP-BC
Donna Finto BSN, RN
Jason A. Haislet PharmD
Linda Pehl PhD, RN, CNE
Pamela Sanford MSN, RN-BC, CNS
Marjory Williams PhD, RN

May 2012 
Volume 42  Number 5
Pages 50 - 52
  PDF Version Available!

NURSES AND OTHER healthcare providers use thousands of diagnostic tests to support decisions about care delivery. Even though increasingly sensitive, accurate, and sophisticated diagnostic tests are available, obtaining basic, established measurements such as height and weight is still important. Inaccurate measurements can have profound effects on patient outcomes.This article highlights patient care implications associated with accurate and consistent height and weight measurements in adults. Using case studies, we explore potential clinical implications of documenting height and weight inaccurately.Height and weight are used to calculate body surface area (BSA) and body mass index (BMI). These measurements have implications for epidemiologic research, obesity assessment, and nutritional status, as well as for screening and interventions for disorders such as osteoporosis. These measurements are also vital for dosage calculation of chemotherapeutic agents, anesthetics, and other medications with a narrow therapeutic margin. Height measurements alone are an important indicator of nutritional status, bone health, and various health problems.1Yet despite the importance of these data, they're not necessarily collected properly-or at all. We conducted an informal poll of healthcare consumers in central Texas and found that height and weight may not be routinely measured during visits with healthcare providers. Although self-reporting of height and weight may seem to save time and money, potentially inaccurate measuring and reporting could prove expensive and time consuming in the long run, possibly leading to errors in treatment.Mozumdar and Liguori explored the accuracy of self-reported height and weight among young adults in college fitness classes.2 The authors asked 739 male and 434 female students to self-report their height and weight via an online survey. Seven days later, without prior notification, all survey takers were asked to participate in the research; those

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