Repeat acute burns presentations amongst patients within a single institution

Dr Henry Shepherd1, Dr Kelly Thornbury1, Dr Aruna Wijewardana1, Dr John Vandervord1, Dr Jeon Cha1

1Royal North Shore Hospital

Most individuals that present to a Burns Unit for management of an acute burn are doing so for the first time. This is in response to a single isolated event. Once treatment is completed they will likely never again present for management of an acute burn. This is, however, not always the case. A small percentage of patients re-present to burns units with new acute burns for a number of reasons. This study examines the incidence and aetiology of these burns. We performed a retrospective review of repeat burn presentations to the Royal North Shore Hospital Severe Burns Unit between January 2013 and January 2017. Of 3066 patients managed during this period, 32 (1%) re-presented on one or more occasion with acute burns. Ninety-two burns were treated amongst this group at a range of 2 to 16 burns per patient. The average total body surface area (TBSA) for these burns was 1.5%. Sixty-nine percent of burns amongst this group were accidental, with the remaining 31% resulting from self-harm. Thirty-eight percent of patients had a significant mental health diagnosis, 29% had concurrent drug and alcohol problems, and 13% had an underlying medical issue predisposing them to the burn. Repeat burns presentations are a rare occurrence. It is important for clinicians to identify the underlying cause of re-presentations to prevent or limit future burns related injuries in these individuals.

Henry is an unaccredited burns and plastics registrar at Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney



ANZBA is a not for profit organisation and the peak body for health professionals responsible for the care of the burn injured in Australia and New Zealand. ANZBA encourages higher standards of care through education, performance monitoring and research.

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