Even though the number of burn injuries is going down in the US, about 1.25 million people get burned each year. About 60,000-80,000 people require hospitalization for their burns and 5500 die from their injuries. Most burns requiring hospitalization involve body areas greater than 10 percent or those that involve the face, hands, feet, or perineum. Most burns are flame burns or scald burns.
The mortality rate at which 50 percent of the patients die is about 98 percent total burn surface area. This has improved dramatically over the years. This is true of people under the age of 14. The statistics are worse for elderly adults, where a 35 percent degree burn kills half of all patients.
Criteria for Burn Unit Admission
Not all people need to be admitted to a burn center. Those that do meet these criteria:
- Second and third-degree burns greater than 10 percent of body surface area.
- Full-thickness burns
- Any burn of the face, hands, feet, eyes, ears or perineum
- Electrical injury
- Inhalational injury
- Chemical burns
- Burns in patients with other significant health problems
Burns are classified into six different causes: flash burns, flame burns, liquid spill, liquid immersion, grease, or steam burns. They are also classified according to burn depth. There are superficial burns (first-degree burns), partial-thickness burns (second degree) full-thickness or deep partial-thickness burns (third degree), or burns involving deep tissues or organs (fourth-degree).
The skin is the barrier to burns, and when it is breached, there is deeper involvement beneath the skin. There is a deep layer, known as the “zone of stasis” involved in deeper wounds in which the blood flow is greatly diminished. Giving medications that improve blood flow to the skin can decrease the depth of the burn. Continue reading ›