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  • Writer's pictureJoshua S. Farquharson

Taking Weight Measurements on a Physician Scale or Gym Scale: Simple Techniques and Practice Activities to Improve Your Skills Quickly

Audience: Healthcare Students | Level: Beginner

healthcare working taking a patient's weight.

Introduction

Are you curious about how to accurately measure weight using the same scale you see in gyms or doctors' offices? Want to learn how to position the parts of the scale and read the lines correctly? This guide is here to help!


Why Weight Measurement Skills Matter

Accurate weight measurement is crucial in healthcare for several reasons. From drug dosage calculations to monitoring growth and development, a person's weight is a critical factor in their medical care and personal well-being. Miscalculating a person's weight can lead to medical errors. Therefore, when it comes to weight measurements, accuracy is essential.


What You’ll Learn

Here are the new skills you’ll gain after completing this guide:

  • Scale Functionality: Identify how the different parts of a scale work.

  • Reading Calibration Marks: Learn how to interpret the calibration marks for precise weight readings.

  • Calculating Weight Measurements: Discover how to calculate total weight accurately.

Tips for Successfully Completing this Guide


  • Use headphones: Preferably in-ear headphones, for the videos and simulation activities.

  • Have a pencil and paper: Jot things down quickly if needed.

  • Find a quiet place: Free from distractions and turn off device notifications.

  • Take breaks: After each lesson, take a five-minute break. Stretch or walk to give your eyes a break from the screen.

  • Use a desktop computer or large display device: Access the content on a desktop or large display for the best experience.


Remember, go at your own pace and build your skills with the activities. Practice as often as necessary to master the skills. You are going to do great!


 

Understanding the Scale Essentials


Identifying Parts of the Scale

We'll focus on the main parts of the physician's mechanical beam scale: the balance beam, upper and lower poise bars, poise weights, balance bar, and balance window.


Review the Parts of the Scale

Instructions: Review each slide in the interaction below to identify the parts of the scale.



 

Checking for Calibration

Before a patient steps on the scale, make sure it's calibrated. Set the large and small poise weights to zero and check that the balance bar floats in the center of the balance window.


Example 1 Incorrect Calibration

The poise weights are correctly set to zero. However, the balance pointer touches the top of the balance window. The scale requires calibration before weighing the patient.


scale showing incorrect calibration.
Example of incorrect calibration.
 

Example 2 Incorrect Calibration

The poise weights are correctly set to zero. However, the balance pointer touches the bottom of the balance window. The scale requires calibration before weighing the patient.


scale showing incorrect calibration.
Example of incorrect calibration.

 

Example 3 Correct Calibration

The poise weights are correctly set to zero, and the balance pointer floats in the middle of the balance window. You may proceed with weighing the patient.


scale showing correct calibration.
Example of correct calibration.
 

Operating the Beam Scale

When the patient is on the scale:

  1. Move the poise weights until the balance pointer floats in the middle of the balance window.

  2. Observe the poise weights on the calibration marks to determine the patient's weight.


Practice Activity: Simulating How the Scale Works

Instructions: Use the interaction below to learn how to operate the beam scale by weighing two simulated patients.




 

Understanding the Calibration Marks

From this point forward, we will assume that the patient is already on the scale, the balance pointer is floating in the balance window, and we are now ready to determine the weight.


Now let's review the calibration marks on the upper and lower poise bars of the balance beam. 


Instructions: Use the interaction below to learn about the calibration marks.


Practice Activity: Interpreting the Calibration Mark Values

Instructions: Use the interaction below to learn how to determine the value of the calibration marks.




Practice Activity: Identifying the Upper Poise Bar Calibration Marks

Instructions: Use the interaction below to practice identifying the value of the calibration marks on the upper poise bar.



 

Reading a Scale: Calculating Total Weight Using the Upper and Lower Poise Bars

You've learned how to identify that calibration marks on the upper and lower poise bars. Next, you'll review how to calculate the total weight!


Review the Process for Calculating the Total Weight

Instructions: Use the interaction below to learn how to calculate the total weight.



 

Skills Assessment for Reading a Scale

Now you're ready to test your skills! Be confident. You're going to do great!


Instructions: Complete each question and select SUBMIT to confirm your answer.



 

Congratulations!

You've completed this guide. You've learned the process of reading a physician's mechanical beam scale and recognized the importance of accurate weight measurement in healthcare. Thank you for participating!

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