How to Learn to Read a Physician Scale

Learn to Read a Physician Scale

A physician scale, sometimes called a "balance beam scale," is used for measuring patients' body mass or weight. These scales use sliding weights that measure mass both in pounds and in kilograms, and are quite accurate. The scale consists of a platform that sits on the floor. Attached to the back of the platform is a vertical metal beam upon which is attached a horizontal, mechanical, die-cast balance beam, consisting of a top bar, marked in both pound and kilogram increments, a small sliding weight, a lower bar, also marked in both pound and kilogram increments, and a larger sliding weight.

    Step onto the platform of the scale and stand still.

    Lift the large weight gently on the lower bar and move it slowly to the right. Watch the arrow on the right end of the balance beam, and stop moving the weight when the arrow falls downward.

    Move the weight back toward the left one notch, which will cause the arrow to move upward.

    Move the smaller weight on the upper bar slowly to the right and stop when the arrow is level.

    Add the numbers indicated in the openings or by tiny arrows on both weights to arrive at your body weight.

    Move both weights back to the left and step off the scale.


    • Have patience when moving weights.


    • Do not jump on the platform, as it can cause damage to the scale and require re-calibration of the scale.