Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Weighing In On The Pros Of Physicians Scales

What safety features can be found on physician scales and how to they benefit the patient?

Mechanical Beam Scsale w Height Rod
There are several different safety features that can be built into any of the standard models of physician scales. One of the most common and practical is to have a rubberized mat or coating on the actual platform. This prevents the patient from slipping when stepping on and off the scale, even if they are not wearing any footwear. The rubberized surface may be ridged, dimpled or texturized to add traction to an otherwise very slick surface.

Another safety feature to consider is the position of either a handle or a rail for the patient to grasp. Handles are typically mounted directly to the column and are centered with the column in the middle of the platform. Often times these handles have rubberized grips to provide additional security. Patients that are not comfortable with the step up or step down can utilize the handle to provide balance. Rails can be another option. These are more substantial and are set to be at waist height for an average adult. This is a perfect option for seniors and patients that are used to using a standard walker for support and balance.

Low profile platforms that minimize the necessity to step up and step down are a good idea for most patients. Using a high capacity model with a larger platform can also provide security for larger adult patients that may feel that the standard platform is not wide or long enough for comfort and balance.

Is there a correct way to use a balance beam scale and, if so, what are the steps?
Traditional Mechanical Scale
There are recommended steps in using a balance beam scale, which are also known as physician scales. The first step is to make sure that the weights are all the way to the zero indicator side of the beam prior to stepping up on the platform. The tip of the scale should be in the middle of the notch in this position. Step up on the scale and allow the slight movement in the platform to stop.

Using the heavy weight, located on the bottom rod of the beam scale, slide it across until the tip drops to the bottom of the slot. Move the weight backwards (lighter) one notch. Make sure that the weight is dropped into the notch on the beam. The tip should spring up and touch the top of the slot.

Using the smaller, light weight on the top beam start to slowly slide it across from light to heavy. When the tip starts to waiver and drop slow down and move notch by notch until the tip balances in the center of the slot without touching the top or bottom. Read the weight off of both beams and then return the weights to the zero end of the beams and step off the scale. Add the two weights together for your total weight.

How can physician scales be cleaned between patient use?

Cleaning physician scales should be easy. Most offer a solid construction of metal for the frame that can be sprayed with disinfectant and wiped down. In addition the platform of the scale should also be easy to clean using a wipe or spray type of disinfectant. The major area of concern is any possible groove or indentation around the platform, especially if the frame is level with the platform and there is a gap. Contaminants and liquids can drain into that gap and allow bacteria or other types of contaminants to collect.

Many of the scales with this type of design provide a removable platform that can be washed easily and then replaced. This will not impact the calibration of the scale.

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