What We All Can Learn from the Typical Tasmanian Teenager Burn Injury

Dr Ingrid Salna1, Mrs Rebbeca Schrale1, Mr Andrew Castley1

1Royal Hobart Hospital, South Hobart, Australia


Background: Epidemiological data can assist to target safety prevention and management of burn injury. It is well documented that children and older adults most commonly sustain burn injury; however adolescent and young adults have also been identified as a group at higher. The incidence, injury characteristics, and outcome have not yet been precisely defined.

Method: retrospective review from The Burns Registry of Australia and New Zealand in those aged 11-19 years of age in Tasmania, in the last five years.

Results: 194 teenagers, aged 11-19 years of age have presented to the Royal Hobart Hospital. This included 147 in the outpatient setting and 47 managed initially managed as an inpatient. The number of presentations per year remained consistent, at an average of 38 per year. The average age was 16 years, with a larger proportion of patients in the 16-19-year-old age group (64%). The most common mechanisms of injury ranged was scald (35%), contact (30%) and flame (23%) occurring during leisure activity excluding sports (19%), followed by cooking/preparing food/drink (19%) and working for income (12%). Burn injuries occurred most commonly in the teenager’s home (47%, n=91), followed by other residence (e.g. friend’s home in 14%). There were only a small number of injuries occurring in school or other institution (5%). There were six self-harm injuries (3%), five of whom were female and nearly all occurring from flame. The average total body surface area burn was 1.8%, with half of these being superficial and only 2% being described as full thickness in depth. Hand(s) were most commonly affected (36%), followed by upper limb (25%)

Conclusion: there is a predictable number of burn injuries in Tasmania. We expect one new teenager to burn themselves every 1.5 weeks, most commonly males aged around 16 years. They commonly occur from exposure to hot substances during leisure time or cooking activities, with half occurring in the home. Overall, in Tasmanian teenagers, there is a need for better education for preventing burn injuries in the home as well as better preventative programs for deliberate self-harm.


Dr Ingrid Salna is a current unaccredited plastics registrar at the RHH, but she originally completed her medical school training in South Australia.

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