Falling Short: Adverse Events Related to Patient Height


  • Caitlyn Allen, MPH Patient Safety Authority
  • Neal Wiggermann, PhD




Measuring a patient’s height is a routine part of a healthcare encounter. But once completed, how often is this information used? For most of us who fall within 95% of the mean population height, this metric is rarely discussed, but what happens when it is overlooked? And what about those on the outer tails of the bell curve of population distribution?
Almost 1 million (909,222) adults in the United States are at least 6'4", more than the entire population of South Dakota (884,659). Conversely, an estimated 30,000 Americans have a form of dwarfism, typically defined as an adult height no taller than 4'10". However, despite this prevalence, the healthcare system struggles to provide consistent, adequate care for patients with extreme heights.

Author Biographies

Caitlyn Allen, MPH, Patient Safety Authority

Caitlyn Allen (caiallen@pa.gov) is director of Engagement for the Patient Safety Authority and managing editor for Patient Safety, the PSA’s peer-reviewed journal. Before joining the PSA, she was the project manager for Patient Safety at Jefferson Health, where she also was the only nonphysician elected to serve on the House Staff Quality and Safety Leadership Council. Previously, Allen also was a project manager and patient safety officer for Wills Eye Hospital.

Neal Wiggermann, PhD

Neal Wiggermann is a research scientist at Hillrom specializing in human factors and ergonomics. He manages a lab that performs scientific research and product testing to inform the design of medical devices, with the ultimate goal of reducing injuries in caregivers and improving patient outcomes. Wiggermann received his PhD in industrial and operations engineering from the University of Michigan.


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How to Cite

Allen, C., & Wiggermann, N. (2021). Falling Short: Adverse Events Related to Patient Height. Patient Safety, 3(1), 42–47. https://doi.org/10.33940/bedside/2021.3.4
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