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Geriatric Burn Injuries Presenting to the Emergency Department of a Major Burn Center: Clinical Characteristics and Outcomes

      Abstract

      Background

      Burn injuries in geriatric patients are common and may have significant associated morbidity and mortality. Most research has focused on the care of hospitalized patients after admission to burn units. Little is known about the clinical characteristics of geriatric burn victims who present to the emergency department (ED) and their ED assessment and management.

      Objective

      Our aim was to describe the clinical characteristics and outcomes of geriatric patients presenting to the ED with burn injuries.

      Methods

      We performed a comprehensive retrospective chart review on all patients 60 years and older with a burn injury presenting from January 2011 through September 2015 to a large, urban, academic ED in a hospital with a 20-bed burn center.

      Results

      A total of 459 patients 60 years and older were treated for burn injuries during the study period. Median age of burn patients was 71 years, 23.7% were 80 years and older, and 56.6% were female. The most common burn types were hot water scalds (43.6%) and flame burns (23.1%). Median burn size was 3% total body surface area (TBSA), 17.1% had burns > 10% TBSA, and 7.8% of patients had inhalation injuries. After initial evaluation, 46.4% of patients were discharged from the ED. Among patients discharged from the ED, only 1.9% were re-admitted for any reason within 30 days. Of the patients intubated in the ED, 7.1% were extubated during the first 2 days of admission, and 64.3% contracted ventilator-associated pneumonia.

      Conclusions

      Better understanding of ED care for geriatric burn injuries may identify areas in which to improve emergency care for these vulnerable patients.

      Keywords

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