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Child battery ingestion care needs guidelines - investigators

Friday June 28th, 2019

The NHS may evaluate the use of metal detectors for rapid diagnosis of children feared to have swallowed dangerous items, including batteries.

The proposal has emerged from an inquiry by the Healthcare Safety Investigation Board into the death of an infant who swallowed a coin-shaped battery in December.

The report said there was an absence of national guidance to help clinician decision-making when faced.

It has called for two royal colleges to work together to remedy this, the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and the Royal College of Emergency Medicine.

The report says that life-threatening chemical reactions can begin within two hours if a lithium coin battery becomes lodged in the oesophagus.

Manufacturers have agreed to examine the safety and packaging of adult battery products, which are not regulated in the same way as children's toys.

There will also be national safety campaigns.

Paediatrics consultant Professor Derek Burke, who helped the investigation, said: "Treatment and management of children under 5 even when a button/coin cell battery is suspected or known is a major challenge for frontline clinicians. This is made even harder when unknown due to the nature of symptoms and other conditions that need to be considered.

“The HSIB report shines a light on this issue and the recommendation made to the RCPCH will help to support this decision-making process, especially when clinical staff are in a busy environment and faced with time critical decisions."

Tags: A&E | Child Health | NHS | UK News

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