Send to

Choose Destination
Pediatr Emerg Care. 1999 Feb;15(1):17-8.

Doctors, nurses, and parents are equally poor at estimating pediatric weights.

Author information

Emergency Medicine Residency of the Lehigh Valley, Department of Emergency Medicine, St. Luke's Hospital, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, USA.



To evaluate the relative accuracy of physicians, nurses, and parents in estimating the weight of children presenting to the emergency department.


One hundred pediatric patients between the ages of 0 and 8 years presenting to an urban teaching emergency department (40,000 patients per year) were enrolled over a 1-month period (September 1996). The parents, triage nurse, and examining physician were asked to estimate the patient's weight, each blinded to the others' estimates and the child's actual weight.


Parents, nurses, and physicians all slightly underestimated patient weights (P < 0 .05), but these groups did not differ among themselves (P > 0 .05). The total range of estimates was broad in each group (parents +292% to -41%, nurses +30% to -36%, and physicians +43% to -56%). There was no significant relationship between estimates with regard to age, weight, or sex. Twenty-nine percent of physicians' estimates, 40% of nurses' estimates, and 16% of parents' estimates differed from the actual weight by more than 15%.


Emergency department pediatric weight estimates by parents, nurses, and physicians are significantly and similarly unreliable.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Loading ...
Support Center