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SAMJ: South African Medical Journal

On-line version ISSN 2078-5135
Print version ISSN 0256-9574


AKINOLA, O; WELLS, M; PARRIS, P  and  GOLDSTEIN, L N. Are adults just big kids? Can the newer paediatric weight estimation systems be used in adults?. SAMJ, S. Afr. med. j. [online]. 2021, vol.111, n.2, pp.166-170. ISSN 2078-5135.

BACKGROUND: The weight of a patient is an important variable that impacts on their medical care. Although some drugs are prescribed on a so-called adult dose' basis, we know that adults come in all shapes and sizes - a one-dose-fits-all' approach is not necessarily appropriate. As a measured weight may not always be available, an alternative method of accurately estimating weight is required.OBJECTIVES: To assess and compare the accuracy of weight estimations in adults by patient self-estimation, the Mercy method, Buckley method, Broca index and PAWPER XL-MAC (paediatric advanced weight prediction in the emergency room eXtra length/eXtra large mid-arm circumference) method.METHODS: This was a prospective, cross-sectional study conducted at a tertiary academic hospital in a metropolitan area of Johannesburg, South Africa. Anthropometric variables of height, abdominal circumference, thigh circumference, mid-arm circumference and humeral length were measured. These variables were then applied to the various weight estimation methods and compared with the patient's actual weight.RESULTS: There were 188 adult patients included in the study. None of the methodologies evaluated in this study achieved the recommended >70% of weight estimations within 10% of the patient's actual weight (PW10). The Mercy method was the closest to achieving greater than the recommended 95% for weight estimation falling within 20% of the patient's actual weight (PW20). The PW20 for the Mercy method was 91.5%. The PAWPER XL-MAC and patient self-estimate methods achieved a PW20 of 85.1% and 86.1%, respectively. The Broca and Buckley methods performed poorly overall.CONCLUSIONS: None of the evaluated weight estimation methodologies was accurate enough for use in adult weight estimation. The Mercy and PAWPER XL-MAC methodologies both showed significant promise for use in adult weight estimation, but need further refinement. Although patient self-estimates were similarly accurate to those found in previous studies, they were not an accurate option; self-estimations would remain the first choice if the patient was able to provide such an estimation. The Broca index and Buckley method cannot be recommended owing to their poor performance.

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