Background Standard practice at our hospice did not encourage routine weighing of patients on admission, which potentially limited ability to meet best practice standards for medicine management and nutritional assessment.
Aim This project measured if patients were weighed at or soon after admission. Many were prescribed medication where dose was dependent on weight. The opinions of staff and patients towards routine weighing was also investigated.
Methods An audit of 40 patients measured if patients were weighed on admission or a reason for not doing so recorded and whether weight dependent doses were in line with the British National Formulary or other specialist advice.
A staff questionnaire gained the opinions of 79 clinical staff towards weighing patients, their understanding of the reason for weighing, and rationale for their opinions. A patient questionnaire gained the opinions of 38 patients on being weighed and their understanding of the reason for being weighed.
Results 97% patients did not find being weighed distressing. However, 51% staff members were opposed to routine weighing.13% of patients had a weight recorded. 13% were prescribed low molecular weight heparin, 80% of these patients were weighed and only 60% were on the correct dose.
Conclusions Routine weighing has been introduced for all patients or a recorded reason for not doing so. Clinical staff now receive training that demonstrates the inaccuracy of estimating body weight. An alert sticker is now attached to the medicine chart, for patients prescribed weight dependant medication and a prompt on the shelves where the medication is stored acts as a reminder to check body weight.
There is a plan for regular audits of the weighing of patients to maintain the profile of the importance of weighing and these results will be fed back real time to the clinical teams.
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