More than 70,000 children are sent to the emergency room each year for injuries and malfunctions from medical devices, according to a study by researchers at the Food & Drug Administration.
Contact lenses account for about a quarter of the problems, with issues such as infection and eye abrasion that can result from wearing the lenses too long.
The researchers examined a database of medical record reports from emergency departments covering Jan. 1, 2004, to December 21, 2005, culling records for pediatric medical device-associated adverse events. The total number of events for the two-year period was nearly 145,000, involving devices from 13 medical specialties. The study was published July 26 in the journal Pediatrics (PDF).
Hypodermic needles followed contact lenses as the cause of most MDAEs, at 8 percent. Other problems that made the list include puncture wounds from hypodermic needles breaking off, infections from ear tubes and torn skin from pelvic devices during gynecological exams in teenage girls. The most serious cases involved implanted devices used to treat hydrocephalus, for chemotherapy and infusion pumps for treating diabetes.
Dr. Steven Krug, head of emergency medicine at Chicago’s Children’s Memorial Hospital, told The Associated Press that the study highlights a trade-off: More kids can be treated at home due to advances in medical devices, but their care at home may be less skilled than they would receive in a clinical setting.
"Healthcare providers need to be aware of these kids and their devices and how to recognize or diagnose" related problems, Krug said.