A simple rubber doorstop could save many children who suffer crushed fingers from undergoing amputation, plastic surgeons have advised.
Dr Patricia Eadie, a plastic surgeon at the Mater Hospital in Dublin, revealed that figures show at least 15 children are being treated for crushed fingers every week.
"There will always be accidents involving children but one thing that parents of toddlers especially could do to help avoid the majority of these traumas is to buy a simple €3 rubber doorstop.
"This kid-proof type of doorstop grips the top of the door and stops it closing over completely."
Dr Eadie, who is president of the Irish Association of Plastic Surgeons, said the organisation had collected figures which show that almost five children a week are treated in one major paediatric hospital alone for crushed fingers.
The research looked at theatre lists for fingertip injury repairs between November 2011 and 2012 and data was also gathered on those who had nailbed repairs in the emergency department.
The findings showed that fingertip injuries are the most common type of injuries presenting to paediatric emergency departments.
Dr Eadie pointed out that "in some cases the top of the fingers can be sheared right off. Completely amputated fingers can be reattached either as a simple grafting technique if the amputation is beyond the last knuckle or by microsurgical techniques if the part is longer.
"In the case of the finger being cut off, an adult should immediately wrap the digit in a moistened cloth, put it into a plastic bag and put ice around the outside of the bag and bring it and the child to a hospital emergency department as quickly as possible."
She added: "The numbers show that boys are only slightly ahead of girls in being injured in this way."
In many cases, the child suffers long-term deformity of the tip of the nail and this can result in a change of function.
"In the surveyed hospital of the operations carried out by members of the association 74 of their patients healed within two weeks, 64 patients recovered at three weeks but for 65 it took longer than three weeks. Of the 108 patients who came for follow-up, 90 had healed perfectly but 18 patients had deformities or damaged nails," said Dr Eadie.
The most common fingers affected were the right middle and ring fingers.
A significant number of patients failed to keep their follow-up appointments and it can be assumed that there were no long term problems.