• Article
  • March 8, 2017

Take Action to Prevent Serious Thermal Injuries in Pediatric Patients

Thermal injuries are affecting patients across the country. Hot or cold thermal devices, which are widely used in clinical settings, have caused significant harm to children. These injuries come from devices that are placed on, or near the skin, and produce sheer, pressure or cellular damage.

To reduce the risk of similar harm happening in other children's hospitals, the Child Health Patient Safety Organization (PSO) recently released a Thermal Injuries Patient Safety Alert that includes preventive actions.

Misusing products, using items that aren't intended for patient care or improvising when products aren't available can lead to severe burns, pressure ulcers, blisters and wounds that require additional medical treatment. This little-known pediatric safety issue was discovered after evaluating safety event reports from PSO members.

These reports indicate the potential for a repeat harm event. Use this alert to start a discussion with your team and leadership. A new Risk Assessment Tool can also determine gaps that make your hospital vulnerable to thermal injuries.

The thermal injuries alert is part of Patient Safety Alert library that informs members and the industry of known risks to children, with the goal of eliminating preventable harm. Members can also learn more about this topic and how the PSO works to improve safety during the March 21 Saving One Child: A Vision to Eliminate All Repeat Harm session at the 2017 Quality & Safety Conference.

Send questions or comments to magazine@childrenshospitals.org.