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PTA Blog Talk

The Metric System

Published October 12, 2011 5:52 PM by Jason Marketti

Why is the United States the only industrialized nation that has not adopted the International System of Units (SI) as its official system of measurement? Burma and Liberia are the other two nations that have not adopted this system (this may change in the coming years) and there are other countries that use prototypes of the metric system in their calculations for everyday life.

The metric system is used in the United States in calculating scientific measurements, some firearms and distances in the military, and in other industries where ease of measurement is needed. But when we chart on patients, we write how many feet they have walked, not how many meters they have gone.

Medication dosages are measured in mg, based on the kg of the patient, yet when a patient is weighed in a facility it is documented as lbs. Chart reviewers want to know how far a patient has walked (in feet), how many ml of fluid a patient has consumed, how tall a patient is (to the centimeter), and what his temperature is in degrees of Fahrenheit.

Is this confusing to anyone else? For review, 1 meter = 3.28 feet, 3 m = 9.84 ft, 9 m = 29.52 ft, 15 m = 49.21 ft and 30 m = 98.42 ft. Do you think it is possible we could use SI to document distances for patients in the U.S.?


Through all my years of schooling, I hated that I grew up knowing and understanding the US system of measurements! When I started to learn the metric system it made so much more sense for me!  I can't wait for the US to move to the metric system.

Shea S January 10, 2012 5:34 PM

I wish I could say it was more consistent on this side of the pond...it is not. I buy petrol by the litre, I weigh patients by stones (14 pounds = 1 stone) and my sat-nav tells me it is 1 km to my turn while a road sign tells me the exit is in 1/2 mile. I'm still not used to the centigrade thing yet. I know 20* is warm, 10* is chilly, and I need my windscreen scraper for 0*.

No, I don't think the US is going to convert anytime soon.

Cheers, ta, thanks a lot, Dean

Dean October 12, 2011 4:56 PM

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About this Blog

    Jason J. Marketti
    Occupation: Physical Therapist Assistant
    Setting: San Jacinto, CA
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