The Local Authority Coordinators of Regulatory Services (LACORS) have recently announced that they are launching a nationwide project to deal with inaccurate hospital weighing scales. The project follows studies which found hospital staff using inaccurate and unsuitable scales to calculate dosages of medication for patients.
This link provides details of the LACORS project: http://www.lacors.gov.uk/lacors/Home.aspx
A reader of Metric Views writes:
“This seems a classic area of where the measurement muddle exacerbates the problem. We are presumably talking here about significant errors in weighing rather than slightly inaccurate scales. If people knew their weights in kg, then surely they would immediately notice if the reading seemed unusual, say more than 5 kg different from their normal weight. But if they only know their weight in stones then they would be none the wiser – to their own potential detriment.”
Another reader points out, however, that the Government is already tackling this issue. She writes:
“I noticed again tonight in my local NHS surgery that there is an advertisement in the waiting room for patients to log their own height, weight and blood pressure. I saw several people doing this, using the metric scales, cm measure and BP machine in place. There were no quizzical or confused looks as people wrote in their details (even the elderly).”
But our hapless stone faces other handicaps:
Its plural is a source of confusion. Does she weigh 10 stone or 10 stones?
Its larger relatives, the quarter and the hundredweight, have already fallen into disuse;
Its relationship to its smaller partner, the pound, is thoroughly confusing for those schooled in decimal arithmetic;
It is used only for one purpose, to indicate the weight of people, and stands in isolation from the weight of almost anything else, making comparison difficult;
It has doubtful legal status;
It is unknown in every other country in the world, including the USA, the main bastion of ‘customary’ measures and a major influence on popular culture in the UK.
So to those who prefer familiarity to logic and simplicity, and persist in recording their weight in stones and pounds, Metric Views offers this advice:
Make a note of your weight in kg – tomorrow your life may depend on it