It is common practice when weighing a patient to convert the patient’s weight in kilograms to stones and pounds. While some patients may request this, and you should not refuse such a request, you are urged to give the correct value in kilograms, and only offer a conversion if specifically requested to do so. Why does it help patients to give their weight in kilograms?
There are a number of reasons why you should tell patients their weight in kilograms:
- many patients will prefer kilograms, especially the young, those who use gyms (where machines are calibrated in kg), and those born outside the UK;
- it is quicker to do so than convert to stones/pounds;
- it reduces the chances of errors in converting;
- encouraging patients to understand their weight in kg allows them to easily calculate their correct weight and BMI;
- familiarising patients with their – or their child’s – weight in kg could help when there is a need to calculate medicine doses.
Finally, you should be aware that it is a legal requirement!
What is the legal position of using stones/lbs versus kg?
The position is clear: public bodies and public servants must use metric forms as the primary measure except for a small number of specific exemptions, and there are no such exemptions in the field of public health. Imperial ‘supplementary indications’ are allowed – which means you can give an imperial figure but this must be in addition to the kg figure.