Height and arm-span

The PFT Lab I am associated with has been making a point of having the technicians re-measure patient height with each visit. Part of the reason for this is that several years ago the medical assistants in the pulmonary outpatient clinic were tasked with obtaining patient heights, weights and blood pressures. For a period of time the technicians used these heights when entering the patient demographic information but it was soon noticed that patient heights often changed by several inches from visit to visit. For this reason we have asked the technicians to re-measure patient height instead.

One possible cause for the fluctuation in heights was that the medical assistants were measuring patient height using the height rod attached to the scale while also taking their weight. The PFT Lab has wall-mounted stadiometers in or near all of the lab’s testing rooms so that patient height can be taken with their back against the wall rather than free-standing.

Another reason to regularly re-measure patient height is that the lab’s population has a significant number of patients that have routinely been seen by the lab and the pulmonary physicians for years. The lab’s patient and results database now goes back over twenty years and patients that were seen 15 and 20 years ago have been referred again for pulmonary function testing and their height has changed in the meantime.

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