Can undergraduate paramedic and nursing students accurately estimate patient age and weight?

B. Williams, M. Boyle, Peter O'Meara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
16 Downloads (Pure)


Accurate estimation of a patient's age and weight are skills used by health care clinicians, including paramedics and nurses. It is a necessary skill as patients may be unable to communicate such information due to unconsciousness or altered conscious state. Age and weight estimation influences calculation for medication dosages, defibrillation, equipment sizing, and other invasive procedures such as intubation. The aim of this study was to identify if undergraduate paramedic and nursing students were able to accurately estimate patient's age and weight. Methods A prospective single-blinded observational study involving (N=234) undergraduate paramedic and nursing students from two Australian Universities to estimate the weight of seven patients (adult and paediatric). Results The findings demonstrated variable accuracy in age and weight estimation of the patients. Age estimations of paediatric patients were more accurate than estimations of adult patients. The majority of patient weights were underestimated, and Monash University students displayed similar estimations to Charles Sturt University students. Conclusion Results from this study have identified variation in students' ability to accurately estimate a patient's age and weight. This study has shown that consideration should be given to age and weight estimation education, which could subsequently be incorporated into undergraduate health care curriculum.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-177
Number of pages7
JournalPrehospital and Disaster Medicine
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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