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More than 70,000 children are sent to the ER each year for injuries relating to medical devices. While this may not sound like something most people should be concerned with, please note the most common medical device causing injury to kids: the contact lens. Nearly one fourth of the problems caused by the lenses were often preventable health issues such as infections and eye abrasions.
But according to a report by the Associated Press, other problems were also reported by the researchers at the Food and Drug Administration as well. Common causes of injury to kids included puncture wounds from hypodermic needles breaking off in the skin while injecting medicine or illegal drugs; ear tube infections in young children and skin tears from pelvic devices used during gynecological exams in teen girls.
The results of this study could result in researchers looking further into determining how the injuries occur and how much they may also affect adults. The AP reports these efforts could result in FDA device warnings, depending on what they find, said study co-author Dr. Brock Hefflin.
As might be expected, more serious injuries and infections were discovered in children with implanted devices such as brain shunts for those with hydrocephalus (water on the brain); chest catheters for cancer patients receiving chemotherapy at home; and insulin pumps for diabetics. The AP reports only 6 percent of patients overall had to be hospitalized.
Dr. Steven Krug, head of emergency medicine at Chicago's Children's Memorial Hospital, said the study highlights a trade-off linked with medical advances that have enabled chronically ill children to be treated at home and live more normal lives.
The researchers studied medical records from ER visits reported in a national injury surveillance system. The AP reports that based on data from about 100 hospitals, researchers estimated that 144,799 medical device-related complications occurred during 2004 and 2005. This adds up to the 70,000 plus complications per year.