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Quick-release medical tape gentler on babies

December 31, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
Medical tape is a necessity for patients attached to lifesaving tubes and equipment. This is especially true when it comes to premature babies. But hundreds of thousands of the youngest patients suffer permanent injury and scarring because of that tape. Now there's a possible solution.

Premature babies need extra care in the newborn intensive care unit. Some need to endure multiple IVs, heel pricks and procedures, and adhesive medical tape is a big concern.

"Anything from just abrasion of the skin, to actually we've heard tearing ears off of babies," said Dr. Jeffrey Karp, Brigham and Women's Hospital.

Medical-tape removal results in 1.5 million injuries each year. Many victims are preemies who rely on the tape to keep them attached to critical equipment.

"The problem is that 'neo-nates' have very fragile skin and all these tapes have been tailored for adult skin," said Karp.

"It's something we deal with every day at work," said Corrine Pryor, neonatal nurse.

Now doctors Jeffrey Karp and Bryan Laulicht of Brigham and Women's Hospital have a possible solution.

Unlike regular medical tape, quick-release tape is made up of three layers. The stress of removing the tape is in the middle layer, not on the skin. So the hope is it won't cause any damage.

It's a simple idea that could protect a lot of babies.

Over the last two years, the researchers consulted with neo-natal doctors and nurses while they developed quick-release tape. It's made up of the same elements of consumer tape and medical tape. Dr. Karp says because of that it could be in hospitals relatively soon.