Dr Jen Martins1, Dr Thomas Whitton1, Mr Andrew Castley1
1Royal Hobart Hospital, Hobart, Australia
Australia has an ageing population. As a result, there are greater number of elderly patients presenting with acute burns. Such patient are much more medically complex with multiple co-morbidities, poor wound healing capacity and low reserves to traumatic insults. From data obtained from the Royal Hobart Hospital’s burns unit from 2014-2018, the rates, causes and outcomes of acute burns in the elderly were identified. The overall rates of burns admissions in the elderly population ( i.e. patients over the age of 60 years) have gradually increased over the last 5 years from 12 to 20 in 2014 and 2018 respectively. In addition, 57 elderly patients were treated in total during that period. Fifty six patients sustained their burns by accident and the most common cause was from flame burns, followed by scalds. Post management, 11 patients required admission to another centre (i.e. rehabilitation centre or another acute hospital) & one patient died. This data identifies the rising need for geriatric input for greater number of elderly patients with acute burns. It also illustrates the need for better education in the elderly population regarding burn prevention, specifically relating to scald and flame burns. Lastly, elderly patients are much more likely to be discharged to another institution post injury. Thus, it is essential to that these factors into account to aid the development of better burn prevention and management in the geriatric population.
1) Khan AA et al. 2007. The Bradford Burn Study: the epidemiology of burns presenting to an inner city emergency department. EMJ. 24(8): 523.
2)Laing JH et al. 1991. Assessment of burn injury in the accident & emergency department: a review of 100 referrals to a regional burn unit. Ann R Coll Surg Engl. 73(5):329-331
Jennifer Martins is a SET 1 Plastics Registrar, currently at the Royal Hobart Hospital.