In a damning report on the state of medical weighing equipment and procedures in hospitals across the country, LACORS, the Local Authorities Coordinators of Regulatory Services, has highlighted the dangers of using weighing equipment that can display units other than the standard metric units which are used for calculating medication and radiotherapy dosages, diagnosing illnesses and monitoring treatment.
The report states:
“One of the most potentially harmful issues is that of switchable scales – those that can display metric, imperial and other units. The risk is that medication could be administered based on a readout that was assumed to be metric.”
In the first official recognition for many years of the serious issues that arise from a muddled approach to units of measurement, the report includes the following recommendation to hospital trusts:
“From now on, scales purchased for medical purposes should only be capable of metric display. There should be no capacity for switching or dual readouts. Trusts should be aware of the pitfalls of using switchable scales and may wish to consider replacing them, or having the switches removed. Conversion charts can be provided for those patients who wish to know their weight in imperial.”
The report concludes that, should their recommendations be followed, hospitals will benefit from significant improvements in patient care, and the potential to demonstrate due diligence in relevant clinical negligence claims.