Analgesia Protocols for Burns Dressings: Challenges with Implementation 

Dr Shelley Wall1, Prof Damian Clarke1, Dr  Nikki  Allorto1

1Pietermaritzburg Burn Service, Pietermaritzburg Department Of Surgery, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa


Background: The aim of this study is to compare doctors’ knowledge regarding analgesia in paediatric burns patients in a setting where analgesia protocols are provided but not reinforced to a setting where the same protocols are used but with constant re-enforcement from burns surgeons.

Methods: We reviewed questionnaires completed anonymously by doctors managing burns children in the Pietermaritzburg (PMB) Hospital Complex and the referral hospitals.

Results: The questionnaire was completed by 43 doctors with 53% of the participants working in the referral hospitals. Procedural sedation was given by 98% of doctors. All PMB doctors giving procedural sedation used ketamine compared to 39% in the referral hospitals, which was statistically significant (X2 = 18.237; p < 0.001). Eighty percent of PMB doctors were aware of the correct doses of ketamine and compared to 8% of referral doctors. This was statistically significant (X2 = 21.778; p < 0.001). When assessing the adequacy of analgesia, all of the doctors from PMB used a scoring system or clinical impression. In the referral doctor group, 54% used a scoring system, 38% used the child screaming as an indicator of inadequate analgesia.

Conclusion: We have identified a discrepancy in knowledge between staff in an academic burn centre and those in peripheral referral hospitals. This discrepancy translates into differences in quality of burn analgesia which patients receive. Ongoing efforts must be directed towards changing the culture of district institution and strengthening attempts to standardize care across the region.


Shelley Wall is a general surgeon currently running the burns service at Greys Hospital in Pietermaritzburg in South Africa.

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