Comparison of Broselow tape measurements versus physician estimations of pediatric weights

Am J Emerg Med. 2011 Jun;29(5):482-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ajem.2009.12.002. Epub 2010 Apr 2.


Objective: We sought to determine the agreement of physician estimates compared with Broselow tape measurements in accurately determining children's weights. Our secondary objective was to evaluate whether physician adjustment of the Broselow tape weight measurement is a better estimate of pediatric weight compared with either method alone.

Methods: This cross-sectional study was conducted in the emergency department (ED) of a tertiary children's hospital. Children between the ages of 0 and 14 years consecutively registered in the pediatric ED were eligible for enrollment. Height, weight, body mass index, and Broselow tape measurement were obtained for all subjects. Blinded ED physicians provided estimates for weight and body habitus for enrolled subjects. Physicians next were given the Broselow weight measurement and then submitted a second, amended estimate (hybrid). Percentage differences were used to analyze the discrepancy between estimates and actual weight. Specifically examined were the proportion of estimates that fell within 10% of the patients' actual body weights.

Results: A total of 372 subjects met the inclusion criteria. Mean age was 45.7 months, mean body mass index was 17.4, mean weight was 16.8 kg, and 39 participants (18.1%) met the definition for obese. Broselow estimates were within 10% of actual weight 63% of the time, physician estimates were within 10% of the actual weight 43% of the time and hybrid estimates 55% of the time. Based on average mean percent error, compared with actual weight, Broselow differed by 10.8% (95% confidence interval [CI], 9.7-12), hybrid estimate by 11.3% (95% CI, 10.3-12.2), and physician estimate by 16.2% (95% CI, 14.7-17.7). The Broselow tape was significantly worse than physician estimate for obese patients: 26.4% (95% CI, 19.7-33.1) versus 16.0% (95% CI, 12.3-19.8).

Conclusion: The Broselow tape generally has greater agreement with actual weight than physician visual estimation, except for obese children. Physician adjustment of the Broselow measurement also proved to be comparable to the Broselow tape.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anthropometry / instrumentation
  • Body Height
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Obesity / diagnosis