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Patient Weight is a Powerful Diagnostic Tool!

Patient weight is a powerful diagnostic tool that is underutilized in corrections. 

The reason for this, probably, is that not much attention is paid to weights in outside medicine.  In a general medical clinic, say, a patient’s weight could be compared to their last routine visit and some general conclusions might be reached–such as “You have gained 10 pounds since last year.  This is not good for your general health.”

However, things are different in corrections.  Our patients are with us all the time–they never go home.  Many are “frequent fliers” in the medical clinic, either due to their medical problems or because they complain a lot.  I have found that patient weights in correctional clinics are a gold mine of useful information.  So much so, that I think a patient weight should be the Fifth Vital Sign.

Let me give you several situations where weights will help you.  Often, the patient weight is the only objective evidence you have to assess a patient complaint!

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