Faulty hospital scales 'could risk lives'Dangerous drug doses could result, say TSOs

12 February 2008

A person on some scales

Inaccurate hospital weighing scales could be putting patients’ lives at risk, trading standards officers (TSOs) have warned.

It comes after a series of checks across the country found hospital staff using inaccurate and unsuitable scales to calculate dosages of medication for patients, including small children.

In one case a four-year-old cancer patient was weighed using ordinary bathroom scales to work out her radiation dosage.

The inappropriate scales wrongly showed the girl had gained weight and could have led to the girl being given a potentially harmful dose of radiation treatment.

Cancer scare

TSOs also uncovered problems with weighing equipment going missing and staff not having access to the correct scales for specific tasks.

Now Lacors, the organisation which co-ordinates TSOs, is launching a year-long crackdown to inspect all hospital weighing equipment.

TSOs will work with local NHS trusts  to make sure all weighing equipment is accurate, legal and fit for purpose.

They will particularly target cancer and children’s departments.

'Cause for concern'

Lacors Chairman Councillor Geoffrey Theobald said: ‘Trading standards officers haven't traditionally visited hospitals, but it was clear from the pilot studies carried out that the accuracy of hospital scales is cause for concern.

‘The new scheme will focus on making sure that hospital staff have the information and guidance they need to maintain the highest standards of accuracy.

‘It is not about naming and shaming hospitals that are found to have problems, it is about working together to tackle a longstanding problem.’