Information provided by: Nortrade Medical, West
Burn injuries, which have reached epidemic proportions in recent
years, are considered a health care problem which is more serious than the polio epidemic
was at its peak. It has only been in the past several years that the medical profession
has begun to recognize and understand the problems associated with burns. In the 1950s
there were less than 10 hospitals in the United States that specialised in burns. Since
that time, there has been significant advancement in understanding the problem of burn
injuries and there are now about 200 special burn care centers in the United States.
Burn accident statistics show that at least 50% of all burn
accidents can be prevented. For example, one of every 13 structure fire deaths in the
United States was caused by a child setting a fire. Children playing with fire account for
more than one-third of pre-school child deaths by fire. The following information
regarding burn injuries has been compiled:
- In the United States, approximately 2.4 million burn injuries are
reported per year. Approximately 650,000 of the injuries are treated by medical
professionals; 75,000 are hospitalised. Of those hospitalised, 20,000 have major burns
involving at least 25% of their total body surface. Between 8,000 and 12,000 of patients
with burns die, and approximately one million will sustain substantial or permanent
disabilities resulting from their burn injury. (Journal of Burn Care &
Rehabilitation, May/June 1992)
- (Note: These statistics are for the United States only and just take
into account burn injuries that are reported. Many burns, for which people seek relief, go
un-reported, such as sunburns, minor scalds, match burns, iron burns, curling iron burns,
burns from coffee, etc.)
- Burn injuries are second to motor vehicle accidents as the leading
cause of accidental death in the United States.
- The Bureau of Labour Statistics published the following burn
statistics for 1992:
- 41,000 heat burns resulted in an average of four lost days of work
each. Breakdowns of industrial burns were as follows: 16,500 retail trade; 9,500
manufacturing; 8,600 service industry (such as restaurants).
- 15,700 chemical burns resulted in an average of two lost days of work
each. Breakdowns were as follows: 5,800 manufacturing (such as chemical manufacturers);
3,200 service industry; 2,600 retail industry.
- Children, ages new-born to two-years-old, are most frequently
admitted for emergency burn care in a hospital. The kitchen is the most frequent area in
the home where burn injuries occur for children new-born to four. The next most frequent
area is in the bathroom.
- From ages 5 to 74, most burn injuries occur outdoors with the next
most frequent area being the kitchen.
- From ages 75 and above, the kitchen is the most frequent area for
burn injuries to occur, with outdoor fire accidents being next.
- Burns and fires are the leading cause of accidental death in the home
for children 14 and under and the third leading cause of accidental death for adults.
- Scalds are the leading cause of accidental death in the home for
children from birth to age four and are 40% of the burn injuries for children up to age
- The National Burn Information Exchange indicates that after the age
of 60, the risk of burn injury is greater than at any time since childhood and the average
size of the burn is larger than for any other age group.
- The most common burn accidents for older adults are from flame or
scalding, lighting trash fires or a furnace, bathing or falling asleep while smoking.
- The National Fire Protection Agency found that the age group most
likely to die in house fires are those 75 and older. High-voltage electric injuries
account for approximately 3% of hospital admissions for burn injuries.
- Burns are one of the most expensive catastrophic injuries to treat.
For example, a burn of 30% of total body area can cost as much as $200,000 in initial
hospitalisation costs and for physicians fees. For extensive burns, there are additional
significant costs which will include costs for repeat admission for reconstruction and for
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