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Thermal Injuries Caused by Medical Instruments: A Case Report of Burns Caused by a Pulse Oximeter

Bunker, Daniel Lee John MBBS Hons, B Eng (Aerospace) Hons I*; Kumar, Rohit MBBS*; Martin, Andrew MBBS, FRACS; Pegg, Stuart P. MBBS, FRACS

doi: 10.1097/BCR.0b013e31828a8d5a
Case Reports

Pulse oximeters have been widely used since the 1980s as they are considered to provide a safe, convenient, noninvasive method of estimating blood oxygen saturation. Initially used in the operating room by anesthesiologists, pulse oximetry has become ubiquitous in the healthcare setting. Although rare, serious burn injuries secondary to pulse oximetry have been reported. These include blistering or full-thickness burns of distal phalanges, in some cases requiring amputation and/or grafting;2–4 thermal burns in the setting of poor peripheral circulation;5,6 and extremity burns on infants with cases of gangrene and digit loss.7–13 We present a case of a full-thickness burn arising in a 17-month-old child, which required further therapy for resolution.

*From the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney, Australia; and The Professor Stuart Pegg Adult Burns Unit, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, Herston, Queensland, Australia.

Address correspondence to Daniel Lee John Bunker, MBBS Hons, B Eng (Aerospace) Hons I University Medal, 8/143 Trafalgar Street, Annandale, Sydney NSW 2038 Australia.

© 2014 The American Burn Association