Pennsylvania hospitals urged to weigh patients in kilograms to curb medicine errors

The Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority is recommending all hospitals use kilograms instead of pounds when weighing patients to avoid mistakes when measuring medicine doses, TribLIVE reports.

Errors while dosing chemotherapy drugs, blood thinners and other pharmaceuticals can make treatment less effective or potentially harm patients, said Michelle Bell, director of outreach and education for the authority.

The pronouncement, issued Sept. 8, is the first formal recommendation the authority has made since it launched in 2002, Ms. Bell said.

From December 2008 to November 2015, the authority received 1,291 reports of errors related to patient weights, and 300 of the reports involved confusion between pounds and kilograms, according to data on the authority's website. Of these errors, 11 led to patient harm, with one contributing to a patient's death, Ms. Bell said.

Hospitals should consider having charts for patients to convert their weights, Ms. Bell said.

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