Hospitals are warned against using a warming device

  • Article by: PAUL WALSH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 6, 2009 - 11:16 PM

Investigation followed an incident last year in which an infant was severely burned at a Coon Rapids hospital.

Hospitals should stop using warming devices similar to the machine involved in a fire that severely burned a newborn at a Coon Rapids hospital, investigators said Friday.

"Given the age of these units -- none have been manufactured in 10 years -- and the potential seriousness of any subsequent incident, we urge hospitals to remove these models from service as soon as feasible," said Mark Bruley, vice president, accident and forensic investigation group, for the nonprofit ECRI Institute.

ECRI investigated the burning of Maverick Werth in January 2008 at Mercy Hospital, when he was 12 hours old. Maverick has scars on his scalp and upper body and wears a special glove to protect his right hand, said his father, Justin Werth, of Elk River.

ECRI, which was hired by Mercy's owners to investigate the incident, said that the fire was "most likely caused by a hot particle falling from the bassinet's warmer assembly into the oxygen-enriched environment near the infant's head." The investigators concluded that hospital staff members were not at fault because the defects in the device "are not visible to the naked eye" and did not result from improper maintenance.

The warning from ECRI covers a series of warmer models made by Borning and Hill-Rom. Draeger bought the product line from Hill-Rom in 2004 but did not sell any units, which were last made in 1998.

ECRI said that it believes that events similar to what occurred in Maverick's case, "while unlikely, are possible, and [ECRI] recommends immediate action to remove and replace the affected models."

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482

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