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FRIDAY, July 26 (HealthDay News) -- Bedsores affect hospitalized children more often than previously believed and most of them are caused by medical devices, a new study finds.
Researchers at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center found that at least 10 percent of children admitted to the hospital developed bedsores, also called pressure ulcers. That rate is more than twice as high as was thought to occur in youngsters.
Compared with adults, in whom more than 70 percent of bedsores occur due to pressure on bony parts of the body, this study found that most of these skin tissue injuries in children are caused by medical devices.
"These devices include facemasks used in delivering mechanical ventilation to the sickest patients, tracheotomy tubes, pulse oximeters (used to measure oxygen saturation in the blood) and orthopedic casts," study author Marty Visscher, director of the skin sciences program, said in a medical center news release.
"While often lifesaving, these devices can cause pressure ulcers that can be quite serious. Their incidence is higher in critically ill patients, with increased infection, pain and prolonged hospitalization," she explained.
The study was published online in the journal Pediatrics.
In response to their findings, the researchers developed a quality improvement program that they report has reduced bedsores at the medical center by 50 percent.
"While this initial intervention has proved to be efficacious, we need to use established skin evaluation methods, identify early tissue changes and test additional interventions to reduce harm from medical devices," Visscher said. "The unanticipated increase in pressure ulcers from pulse oximeters indicates that new products must be evaluated before widespread use."
Even though these skin tissue injuries might not always cause serious problems, they are often one of the most visible signs of illness in a bedridden patient, and can be an emotional tipping point for families with sick children, the researchers said. That's another major reason why it's important to take steps to prevent bedsores, the study authors noted in the news release.
The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about bedsores.