A nurse who has invented a new weighing scale for immobile patients believes it could save lives by ensuring they get vital drugs more quickly on admission to hospital.
Gillian Taylor came up with the idea for the Patient Transfer Scale – believed to be the first of its kind in the world – while working in emergency care for NHS Lanarkshire.
“They can be weighed quickly without time being taken to weigh them”
She said: “The only way to weigh an immobile patient was to use a hoist scale or a bed scale, but both were time consuming, and could be cumbersome too.
“I decided there must be an easier way to weigh these patients,” said Ms Taylor.
An accurate weight reading is important when drug dosages need to be calculated or treatment administered, especially when a patient is seriously ill.
Ms Taylor worked out the process could be made much simpler if a patient was weighed as they were transferred from a trolley to a bed using a transfer board.
“I realised that if a patient is weighed as they are transferred to a bed, using a transfer board, they can be weighed quickly without time being taken to weigh them,” she said.
“This means as soon as the patient is admitted to hospital there is a weight reading that can be used to accurately administer medication as soon as possible,” she added.
“It will help hospitals deliver better patient care by weighing them with dignity”
She went on to develop her invention with support from weighing scale manufacturer Marsden and Scottish Health Innovations Limited, which works with NHS Scotland to identify, develop and market products that have the potential to improve patient care.
The Patient Transfer Scale has since been tested in 30 hospitals with feedback informing the final product, due to be launched later this year.
Ms Taylor has toured the UK with her invention and has since left the health service to work as a consultant for Marsden.
Research has shown that many patients admitted to hospital do not have a weight recorded with a significant proportion not weighed at all – increasing the risk of inappropriate dosages of medication.
“The Patient Transfer Scale is an exemplar of front line health professionals identifying new, more efficient ways to improve patient care,” said Graham Watson, executive chair at Scottish Health Innovations Limited.
He said: “By accelerating the speed at which time critical medications can be administered it offers significant benefit in the treatment of stroke, sepsis, pain management and other conditions whereby a standing weight measurement cannot be achieved.”
“Hopefully this will inspire other NHS staff to identify opportunities”
Richard Black, managing director of Marsden, said he believed the scale was a “revolutionary idea” that had the potential to transform patient care globally.
“It will help hospitals deliver better patient care by weighing them with dignity and prescribing drug dosages with confidence,” he said.
He added: “This scale is the first of its type in the world - and we believe it can change the way hospitals operate around the world.”
Raymond Hamill, senior research and development manager at NHS Lanarkshire, said he also believed the scale would have “huge benefits for patient outcomes”.
“We are very proud of Gillian and of the part we played to help turn her idea into a tangible product,” he said.
“Hopefully this will inspire other NHS staff to identify opportunities and make them aware that support is available to make them a reality,” said Mr Hamill.