chapter  1
4 Pages

General Considerations

Burn injury represents a significant problem worldwide. As a reference, over 1.2 million people are burned in the United States every year, most of which are minor and treated in the outpatient setting. However, approximately 60,000 burns in the USA are moderate to severe and require hospitalization for appropriate treatment. Of these, it is estimated that 5,000 die each year from complications related to the burn. The significance of burn injury to society is supported by the finding that only motor vehicle collisions cause more trauma-related deaths. These deaths occur in a bimodal distribution either immediately after injury or weeks later due to multiple organ failure, a distribution that is similar to the pattern of all trauma-related deaths. Two-thirds of all burns occur at home and commonly involve young adult males and children. Young adults are burned frequently with flammable liquids, while toddlers are most often scalded by hot liquids while in the kitchen. A significant percentage of burns in children are, unfortunately, due to child abuse. These generalizations bring to mind that most of these injuries are preventable, and therefore amenable to prevention strategies.