An International Review of Petrol Burns in Australia and New Zealand

Dr Nickolas Savage1,2, Dr Zakary Doherty1,2, Ms Yvonne Singer2, Ms Hana Menezes2, A/Prof Heather Cleland1,2, Dr Stephen Goldie1,3

1Monash University, Melbourne, Australia, 2Alfred Health, Melbourne, Australia, 3Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia


Introduction: Petrol burns cause significant morbidity and mortality. Recent evidence from Victoria shows that those living in rural locations and young males are effected disproportionately. We sought to extend this study to identify groups who might benefit from targeted prevention.

Methods: The Burns Registry of Australia and New Zealand (BRANZ) was interogatted over a 9-year period to identify patients suffering a petrol burn. Patients younger than 16 years old were excluded. Patient demographics, geographical location, the nature of their injury and subsequent management was recorded. Statistical analysis was conducted using R Statistical Software.

Results: 2,833 patients were identified. The median age was 35 years (IQR 24, 48). Most patients were male (88%). Petrol burns made up 14.1% of all adult burns admissions and showed almost a 3-fold mortality increase compared to non-petrol burns. Females were significantly more likely to suffer inhalational burns (p<0.001), larger TBSA burns (p<0.001), require longer hospital stays (p<0.001) and die from their injuries (p<0.001). Delibrate self-harm and assault from another person were more common among women (p<0.001). Patients presenting with petrol burns from outwith metropolitan areas made up a disproportionately high number relative to the population total in these areas.

Conclusion: This international study of petrol burns across Australia and New Zealand confirms that the majority of patients involved are young men. However self-harm and assault using petrol are more common in females. The injuries sustained by females are worse and their outcomes poorer. Our results may inform changes in patient education, government policy, and legislation.


Dr. Nicholas Savage is an intern at The Alfred with an interest in Plastic and Reconstructive surgery.

Recent Comments