|It's easier to push a stalled '57 Chevy than a bed scale!|
Oh well, Nero's circus must go on so here's my take on vintage behemoths that were part Hoyer lift, part ironing board, and finally part piano mover's dolly with enough free weights to open a gym. Bed scales were the hospital version of battleships, difficult to change direction when in motion, fraught with danger and best left alone.
The illustration above shows an intrepid young nurse in transit for her mission; to weigh a bedridden patient. The ironing board part of the scale is hinged so it's vertical when in storage or
The platform is elevated like a not so magic carpet by way of a hydraulic Hoyer lift like pump. Now for the fun part - where the rubber meets the road. The patient is suspended inches above the bed while the nurse turns her attention to balancing the counterweights. A potential hazard included becoming distracted by the precarious position of the patient and dropping a 20# weight on your foot. Clinic nursing shoes did not have a safety toe so that's really going to leave a dandy bruise, if you are lucky. The not so fortunate will see the ortho clinic with compound fractures of the metatarsal bones.
One of the great nursing debates involved the question of including peripherals (How about that? I managed to hijack a term from the computer industry.) like Foley bags or surgical drains in the bedside weight. The free spirit nurse simply tossed the Foley bag or drain apparatus into the mix and included it in the final weight. Dangling Foleys and drains were always at risk for unintended extrication during the transfer or elevation process so I usually left them be and subtracted a pound for the tare at the conclusion of the procedure.
One of my most colorful nursing instructors, Miss Bruiser had a favorite saying, "Work smarter; not harder." Every nurse hated bed scales with a passion and looked for a smarter procedure when it came to patient's weights. In nursing research there are methods for assuring interrater reliability so that results are consistent. Nurses weighing bedridden patients took a lesson from carnival weight guessing hucksters and followed suit. Before the bed scale weight was determined, the nurse took a guess at the patient's weight. When her guestimate came within 5 lbs. or so she became a certified patient weight confabulator. Leave that massive bedside scale in the clean utility room and bring in the certified nurse weigh approximator. These nurse's were also trained experts at clairvoyant counting patient's respirations.