Louise Nicholl1, Kerry Bolwell2, Madeleine Jacques3

Clubbe Ward/BPTC, The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, Westmead, NSW
2  Clubbe Ward/BPTC, The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, Westmead, NSW
3  Clubbe Ward/BPTC, The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, Westmead, NSW

Burn injuries are common amongst the paediatric population, but do they receive adequate first aid??

Several Australian studies looking at first aid for burn injuries recommend cooling by running water (2-15oC) for at least twenty minutes – preferably immediately after burn injury, but this has been shown to be effective for up to 3 hours post burn.  Variances in the duration and delay of such first aid can negatively impact upon the burn outcome. This first aid can dramatically reduce tissue damage in the burnt area. This poses the question – is it more beneficial to receive cooling immediately? Statistically within Australia and New Zealand, as long as cooling has occurred within the first 3 hours post burn injury it is considered adequate.

It is known that a lack of or inappropriate first aid such as ice, toothpaste, butter and tiger balm can have negative impacts upon the outcome of burn wounds.  It is often seen that these remedies are culturally based or may be due to a lack of education. If a patient then presents to a hospital or tertiary centre and the correct cooling techniques are applied within the three hour designated timeframe according to our data capture methods they have received adequate first aid.

A 12 month retrospective data audit of the first aid that paediatric burn injury patients treated at one of the three NSW Burn Units received was conducted. Through analysing this data we hope to conclude whether adequate first aid contributes to better healing outcomes or the reduced need for a patient to undergo a skin grafting operation to achieve wound closure. We will also hope to determine if there is any advantage of immediate cooling (within 30 minutes post burn injury) as opposed to adequate cooling that was received between 30 minutes and three hours post burn.

Key Words

Burn, cooling, inadequate, first aid


Burns Service Registered Nurse13yrs Burns Service Westmead children’s hospital

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