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Documenting Height and Weight

Dina, a nursing assistant at South Manor, finished checking Mr. Smith’s vital signs, and her final step was to weigh Mr. Smith. Mr. Smith’s last recorded weight was 170 pounds, but today’s measurement read 166 pounds. Mr. Smith had lost four pounds, and Dina was concerned because she knew that any weight changes, no matter how small, could be a sign of illness. Accurate weight measurements also ensure doctors prescribe the correct dosage of medication. The change in Mr. Smith’s condition needed to be reported to the nurse right away, so Dina recorded the numbers and walked straight to the nurses’ station.

There are many types of scales, and which scale is used depends upon the resident's mobility. An ambulatory resident is weighed on an upright scale. Before the resident steps on the scale, nursing assistants must balance it by making sure the scale measures zero. Another way to maintain accuracy is to make sure the resident isn’t holding, touching, or leaning against anything. If needed, nursing assistants will measure height immediately after weighing the resident on an upright scale using a height rod attached to the scale.

Residents that cannot get out of their wheelchairs easily may be rolled onto a special wheelchair scale. Nursing assistants may need to subtract the wheelchair weight from the resident’s weight to ensure an accurate weight is measured.

Bedridden residents are weighed on special bed scales, which mechanically lift the resident into the air for a weight measurement. Some healthcare facilities have devices that are placed under each leg of the bed to weigh the person. When ordered, bedridden residents are also measured for height in bed with a tape measure.

Regardless of the equipment used to measure height and weight, nursing assistants will be trained on how to safely and accurately perform these procedures.

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© 2015 by Southwest Adult Basic Education

Project made financially possible through grants from:

Southwest Initiative Foundation, Marshall Community Foundation, Southwest Regional Transition Partners, Southwest Adult Basic Education, Marshall Healthcare Partners