CNA Skill: Measuring Height and Weight for a Supine Patient

Patients who are not able to stand will need to have their height and weight measured while they remain in bed.  Changes in weight can be a warning sign of serious illness.  Before you begin, wash your hands carefully.  Greet your patient and explain that you are going to measure his height and weight.  Verify the identity of the patient, and then follow these steps:

  1. You will need two people to complete this procedure.  Introduce your colleague, and ensure they have also washed their hands.
  2. Lower the head of the bed so that the patient is lying flat.  Roll the patient onto his or her side and onto a bath blanket.  With your colleague’s help, place the bed scale pad underneath the patient.
  3. Before you record the patient’s weight, make a mark at the top of the head and the bottom of the feet on the bath blanket.  You will use this to determine the patient’s height.
  4. Obtain the patient’s weight using the bed scale, and record the weight on the patient’s chart.
  5. Remove the bed scale and the bath blanket and help the patient return to a comfortable position.
  6. Using the bath blanket, measure the distance between the two marks you made earlier.  This is the patient’s height.  Record this number on the patient’s chart.
  7. Wash your hands.

If you notice a significant change in the patient’s weight, notify the nurse.  Based on the measurements you obtain, the nurse may ask you to calculate the body mass index, or BMI of the patient.  If you do not know how to complete this task, ask the nurse for assistance.  By completing this task with the help of a co-woker, you can minimize any potential discomfort for the patient and complete the task in a timely manner.

Examiners Checklist For This Skill

Measuring and recording Weight

1) Performed beginning tasks.
2) Balanced scale at zero.
3) Weighed individual.

A. Individual who is able to stand to be weighed:
a)Placed paper towel on scale platform.
b) Assisted individual to stand on scale platform without
c) Read weight measurement.
d) Recorded weight measurement to be compared to the weight
measurement recorded by the evaluator.
e) Assisted individual off of scale with appropriate assistance as
B. Individual who is weighed by wheelchair or bed scale:
a) Sanitized wheelchair/bed scale according to facility policy.
b) Assisted individual on wheelchair scale or bed scale as
c) Read weight measurement.
d) Recorded weight measurement to be compared to the weight
measurement recorded by the evaluator.
e) Assisted resident off wheelchair/bed scale as appropriate.

4) Returned scale balanced to zero.
5) Performed completion tasks.

Measuring and recording height

1) Performed beginning tasks.
2) Measured height.

A. Individuals who are ABLE TO STAND:
a. Used appropriate measuring device.
b. Placed paper towel on platform as appropriate.
c. Instructed individual to stand erect without shoes.
d. Read height measurement.
e. Recorded height measurement and converted appropriately
to be compared to the height measurement recorded by the
B. Individuals who are UNABLE TO STAND:
a. Position individual on side or back without shoes.
b. Used appropriate measuring device.
c. Read height measurement.
d. Recorded height measurement and converted appropriately
to be compared with the height measurement recorded by
the evaluator.
e. Repositioned individual, as necessary.

3)Performed completion tasks.

Expert Tip by Tanya Glover, CNA

This is one of the skills that none of my class was required to perform during the exam. (Thank goodness!) However, if this one comes up in your cards it can be terribly scary for you as a newbie. Actually, never in my career have I had to do this skill on the job or elsewhere. In most nursing homes there are certain CNA’s that are responsible for this task. In North Carolina they are referred to as restorative aides. But, if you have to do it, never do it alone. This is definitely a two person job and that is for your safety as much as your patients. The best advice I can give you on this task is to take your time to ensure safety and accuracy. A patient’s weight is nothing to play around with. The staff must be aware in any change in weight for the patient’s health and safety.

If you are nervous about weighing, you are not alone. The patient is nervous as well. Who wants to be lifted up in a contraption that feels as if you can fall from at any time? Try your best not to show how nervous you are. If the patient can see and feel your confidence then they will be more at ease too. If you are not comfortable with this task at first, talk to your supervisor. You should never do anything that you feel uneasy about because that can cause injury to you and the patient. They will respect your efforts and honesty. They will work with you until you feel good about the task at hand and this will go a long way in building your confidence and the relationship with your employer.

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