Assessment of clinical outcomes following first aid treatment for burns in paediatric patients

Dr Jane E Theodore1,2, Dr Bronwyn Griffin1,2, Prof Roy M Kimble1,2

1 Pegg Leditschke Children’s Burns Centre, Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital, 501 Stanley St, South Brisbane, QLD, 4101,
2 Centre for Children’s Burns and Trauma Research, Centre for Children’s Health Research, University of Queensland, 62 Graham Street, South Brisbane, QLD, 4102

There are few studies on the clinical outcomes of burns following first aid treatment in humans, particularly paediatric patients. Appropriate first aid treatment for burns is associated with improved wound re-epithelisation and reduced surgery. The aim of this study was to ascertain if the current burns first aid treatment of cold running water (CRW) application for 20 minutes or longer within the first three hours of burn injury results in improved clinical outcomes in the paediatric population. A retrospective analysis was conducted from a prospective database of paediatric patients, aged 0 to 16, who presented with an acute burn injury to the Burns Centre at the Royal Children’s Hospital, and more recently the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital in Brisbane from January 2013 to December 2015. A total of 1795 patients were included in analysis. Sixty-five per cent (n = 1173) had appropriate first aid treatment. Compared with those who had sufficient CRW, patients with insufficient first aid (less than 20 minutes of CRW or no CRW) were significantly more likely to require hospital admission (n = 190; 16.2% vs. n = 152; 24.4%, p = 0.0001) and surgery (n = 243; 20.7% vs. n = 218; 35%, p = 0.0004) including skin grafting (n = 91; 7.7% vs. n = 82; 13.2%, p = 0.008). The results of this study support the current recommendation that appropriate burns first aid treatment improves clinical outcomes in paediatric patients.

Key Words

Burns, first aid, surgery, paediatrics


Jane is a Senior House Officer currently working at the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital with a particular interest in burns surgery including reconstruction. She is currently undertaking research in the clinical outcomes of burns following first aid treatment with the supervision of Prof Roy Kimble as part of a full time Master of Surgery (Trauma) through the University of Sydney.

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