Surviving a severe burn injury is a lot more likely today, thanks to major advances in treatments made over the past thirty years, according to a study published in the Journal of American College of Surgeons.
Since improvements in burn care transpired in the 1980s, the study was the first to have analyzed the progress made on the affects to burn injury patients.
“Mortality has decreased three to fivefold since the 1980s ostensibly from the substantial advances in burn care that occurred between 1980 and 1989,” according to a statement in Medical News by the lead study author David N. Herndon, chief of staff and director of research at the Shriners Hospital for Children, Galveston, and director of burn services at the University of Texas Medical Branch. “Yet until now there has never been a definitive study showing the cumulative effect of these advances on survival.”
The records of 10, 384 adult and youth severe burn injury patients admitted to Shriners Hospital for Children or the Blocker Burn Unit, both in Galveston Texas, were analyzed by researchers from 1989 to 2017. Burn Injury treatment and protocols developed between 1980 and 1989 were applied to the patients during that time period.
Statistical profiles were created for each burn patient, categorizing them by age, sex burn size and smoke inhalation, as well as a risk prediction model for the patient for the 355 deaths that occurred within the group. The data was compared against patient mortality data from the National Burn Repository and other medical records.
Medical News reported that the comparison showed a “significant decrease in mortality in their patient population compared with historical predictions from previous studies.”
“In this one area of medicine, these new protocols have massively reduced mortality overall,” Dr. Herndon said. “Over the last 30 years at our burn center there has been a continuing reduction in the risk of mortality of about 2 percent per year in all age groups, burn sizes, and genders.”
In addition, and equally significant, was the revelation of strong predictors of burn injury mortality, which include the total burn surface of the body, age as well as the presence of an inhalation injury.
“The most dramatic decreases in mortality, most recently, have been in patients over age 40.” Dr. Herndon said. “Remarkably, a patient up to the age of 40 who has sustained a 95 percent body burn now survives half of the time, whereas in earlier times a 50 percent body burn killed that same person.”
Burn excision and skin grafting immediately following an injury, protocol for inhalation injury and patient nutrition are some of the improvements in burn injury care.
In a report in Medical News, Dr. Herndon said, “We hope our findings will inspire other burn units to try to keep people alive with extensive burns because it’s clear that it can be done. Burn specialists also need to focus on implementing the protocols that have allowed this improvement in survival to occur. For example, a woman over the age of 40, with very large burns, is a patient who can survive today if these protocols are implemented.”
“Our priorities for future advancements need to focus on decreasing scar tissue and morbidity, effective rehabilitation, and returning patients to work.” Dr. Herndon said.
How Burn Injuries Occur
According to the American Burn Association approximately 500,000 burn injuries are treated in the US each year. The most common causes are contact with flames and scalding, from steam or hot liquids, which account for 46% and 32% respectively. The remaining causes, making up the other 22%, are thermal burns, electrical burns, chemical burns, and a combination of other causes such as sunburn, fireworks and inhalation.
Vititoe law Group, having represented many victims of serious burns, is aware that a severe burn injury in one of the most devastating injuries a person can receive. If you or a loved one were burned in an accident at work, at home or while driving, contact a personal injury lawyer at Vititoe Law Group today for a free evaluation of your case. You may be entitled to collect compensation for your medical bills, lost income as well as pain and suffering. Call today at 818-851-1886 or contact us online.