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


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