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Medical devices complicate conditions in kids: study

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Innovation in medicine saves lives every year, but what are the consequences of fitting children with medical devices?

In the June 7 issue of the Journal of Hospital Medicine, researchers from the Division of Hospital Medicine at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center outlined findings that a "significant" number of children with complex medical conditions suffer complications due to medical device implants.

The researchers used patient data from the Pediatric Health Information Systems (PHIS) to analyze the prevalence of adverse medical device events (AMDEs), including mechanical failure, infection and rejection. Out of 4.1 million patient admissions, 3.3 percent -- 136,465 -- involved at least one complication. 75.5 percent of AMDEs were registered by children with complicated problems, and over 40 percent of AMDEs involved children aged two or younger.

Patrick Brady, MD, MSc, the lead author of the study, says that complications are a "byproduct" of the success in using such devices, but there has been little research undertaken to establish the risks of implanting foreign objects into children, especially as they are often adapted from adult variants.

Devices are used in paediatric care to improve the survival rates of patients suffering from conditions including congenital diseases and prematurity.

The research underlines the necessity of continual improvement in care by enhancing medical device safety practices and ensuring device design is suitable or adaptable for pediatric patients.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has increased post-market surveillance of pediatric medical devices to improve safety and use. As medical devices become more sophisticated, it's important to keep tabs on how they affect patients -- especially the young.

Read More: Eureka Alert

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Image credit: Flickr

— By on June 6, 2013, 11:46 PM PST

Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure