Collecting accurate weight readings for patients is a must in any hospital, doctor’s office, or medical facility. After all, properly tracking a patient’s weight gain or weight loss is critical to correctly calculating medication administration over time. In addition, consistent patient weighing helps healthcare providers identify potential metabolic or nutritional problems that could otherwise go overlooked.
When a doctor is ensuring patient comfort and maximum precision when weighing individuals, finding the right health scale for the job can make all the difference. Read on to learn more about the different types of health scales in use today so you can determine which option would work best for your practice or hospital.
8 Types of Health Scales for Medical Patient Weighing
There are a wide variety of scales on the market to accommodate the specific needs of various healthcare providers. Knowing the benefits of each type of medical scale and in which circumstances they are often used will make it much easier to select the right option for your particular patients.
Here are 8 candidates for the most popular patient weighing scale used in the medical field today:
Healthcare providers who regularly see patients with mobility issues may benefit from using chair scales in their facility. Unlike other patient weighing devices, chair scales allow the patient to sit down comfortably while their weight is recorded. These types of scales are ideal for patients who have suffered an injury or illness that makes standing upright challenging or uncomfortable.
Another useful benefit of chair scales is that most models come with two or more wheels, which makes it easy to bring the scale directly to the patient’s location. This translates to less stress and discomfort for the patient while simultaneously reducing the workload of nurses and doctors.
These scales are made to assist patients who need additional support to stabilize themselves when standing upright. In many cases, handrail scales are used in bariatric or geriatric environments where patients often experience mobility difficulties that can make it challenging to acquire accurate weight readings on conventional floor scales. To provide further security for patients, handrail scales also typically come equipped with a non-slip platform that mitigates the risk of tripping or falling while in use.
It’s also important to note that since handrail scales are typically used to weigh patients who are a little unsteady on their feet, most quality handrail scales today include motion-compensating technologies to eliminate any discrepancies in weight accuracy caused by shaking, trembling, or other movements.
Home Health Scales
As the name suggests, home health scales are primarily used in residential settings where patients are either in recovery or preparing to undergo a procedure. These patient-weighing devices resemble generic bathroom scales but provide highly accurate readings, often with a digital screen such as an LCD, as opposed to a mechanical dial.
Home health scales are especially useful for family members or registered nurses who care for patients in their homes. Likewise, those who are following a medication or treatment regimen outside of a medical facility can use home health scales to accurately monitor weight loss or weight gain in between appointments with their doctors. Since home health scales do not come with handrails or seats, though, these types of scales are typically used by children or adults without serious mobility problems.
Mechanical Health Scales
This doctor’s office scale is what most people associate with medical practices or hospitals. Simple, skinny, and discrete, mechanical health scales take up very little space and are very easy to move around in a medical environment as needed. While other scales on this list rely on battery power to operate, mechanical scales are operated entirely by hand by shifting various weights along the top of the device. Although it may take a few more seconds to determine a patient’s weight with a mechanical health scale, they are incredibly reliable and accurate, making them a favorite among primary care physicians everywhere.
These devices are among the most popular hospital scales used today for weighing babies and young children. Pediatric scales are indispensable in a hospital’s newborn intensive care unit (NICU), where carefully monitoring the weight of infants is a top priority. Featuring a concave surface, pediatric scales are engineered to comfortably, safely, and quickly weigh a baby or small child with a high degree of accuracy. Similar to handrail scales, many of today’s top pediatric scales also feature motion sensors that can compensate for any movements of the child that would otherwise interfere with the weighing process.
These versatile scales often resemble mechanical scales but are usually more sophisticated in functionality. The most advanced physician scales feature digital readouts or even Bluetooth connectivity to rapidly record and transmit patient details to a secure, centralized database. Physician scales are suitable for virtually any healthcare environment, including primary care physician offices, personal fitness facilities, or physical rehabilitation centers.
These types of hospital scales allow healthcare providers to rapidly weigh a patient who is confined to a stretcher. When an individual arrives in the emergency room from an ambulance, stretcher scales allow nurses and doctors to simply roll the stretcher onto the scale for an accurate weight reading without any effort on the part of the patient. For individuals who are injured, unconscious, or in critical condition, stretcher scales can save precious seconds, allowing healthcare workers to expedite treatment and recovery.
Similar to stretcher scales, wheelchair scales allow for accurate weight readings of patients who are handicapped or unable to stand on their own. Wheelchair scales often feature two ramps for easy access and have a higher weight threshold than other scales on this list.
How to Maintain Your Health Scale
As with any piece of medical equipment, consistent maintenance is essential to ensuring your health scale works properly well into the future. Luckily, maintaining a health scale is a fairly straightforward process that doesn’t require a tremendous amount of knowledge or experience. Follow these 3 simple steps to ensure your patient weighing devices continue to function properly:
Always Place Your Health Scale on a Flat Surface.
To ensure reliable, accurate operation of your health scale, it’s important to place it on a level, smooth surface. Scales should never be placed atop carpet or other soft materials. Instead, select a location with tile or wood flooring to ensure an accurate reading every time. When your scale is not in use, it’s important to store the device in a secure, climate-controlled environment where moisture or humidity won’t be able to damage the scale’s sensitive internal components.
Calibrate Scales Annually.
Given time and persistent use, most scales will gradually become less accurate. To prevent this from happening, it’s advisable to have your scale calibrated by a professional at least once per year. It’s important to note that using dumbbells or other types of fitness weights to calibrate your health scale will likely not result in the level of accuracy required in modern healthcare environments. Instead, professional scale calibrators use extremely precise weights that will ensure the precision of your scale down to the smallest denomination.
Clean Your Scale Regularly.
It’s also essential to clean your health scale regularly to ensure accurate readings throughout the lifespan of the device. Start by ensuring the scale is unplugged from any power sources. Next, carefully wipe down the surface of the scale using a moist cloth. If the scale is especially dirty, a non-abrasive soap and water solution may be used as well. Afterward, be sure to thoroughly dry the platform with a clean towel before weighing the next patient.
Never allow moisture to enter the internal parts of the scale, and always read the user’s manual before disassembling a health scale for cleaning. Under no circumstances should a scale be immersed in water or sprayed down to remove germs or grime.
Conduct a Visual Inspection of the Scale Daily
Set a few moments aside every day to perform a quick visual inspection of the scale. Keep an eye out for any damage to the scale that wasn’t apparent the day before. If you have the proper equipment to load-test a scale yourself, place a weight that equals 10% of the scale’s capacity directly on the center of the weighing platform and record any changes in the readout. Remember, though: Medical scales are not indestructible, and suddenly dropping a heavy weight on the platform can potentially damage the equipment.
Considerations for Choosing the Right Health Scale for Your Facility
Selecting the right health scale for your practice or hospital will depend on many different factors. You’ll need to consider the types of patients you typically see on a given day and the level of accuracy your facility requires.
Bear in mind that some healthcare environments will need a broader selection of scales available to accommodate patients than clinics or private practices that specialize in certain age groups and conditions.
When you need top-tier scales for the healthcare team, our team at American Scale can help. Our precise and reliable health scales are trusted by medical professionals all over the country. We provide an enormous selection of scales available for rental or purchase and even offer comprehensive calibration services to ensure your health scales continue to give accurate readings year after year. When you’re ready to learn more, call our team at 800-928-5005 or visit American Scale online to see our extensive selection of health scales.