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Poor-quality scales found on wards


4 November, 2008  

Inaccurate hospital weighing scales could be putting patients’ health at risk, trading standards officers have said.

Research by the officials found that a third of scales in NHS hospitals do not weigh properly, with one in five not set to zero.

Examples of the poor use of scales in hospitals include where nurses had bought scales from Argos, and when baby scales were put on foam mats or wobbly trolleys – making their readings inaccurate.

Scales are used for a variety of reasons in hospitals, including calculating how much anaesthetic should be used or how much radiation cancer patients should receive.

The report, from the Local Authorities Co-ordinating Office of Regulatory Services (Lacors), found widespread use of household bathroom scales, deemed unsuitable for medical use.

Between April and August this year, council trading standards teams inspected 7,875 sets of scales in more than 200 hospitals across the UK.

The study found that 34% of the equipment was inaccurate, 22% of scales were not set to zero, and only one in six (16%) hospitals trained staff in the basic use of weighing equipment.

The report said: “One third of all the equipment (2,654 scales in total) was inaccurate.

“Some of these inaccuracies will have been minor, but others much more serious – potentially leading to big under and overdoses of radiation, chemotherapy, anaesthetic, pain relief and other medicine.”

Copyright PA Business 2008

Lacors