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J Burn Care Res. 2015 Jan-Feb;36(1):e12-7. doi: 10.1097/BCR.0000000000000192.

The rapidly increasing trend of cannabis use in burn injury.

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From the University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City.


The use of cannabis is currently increasing according to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Surprisingly, cannabis use among burn patients is poorly reported in literature. In this study, rates of cannabis use in burn patients are compared with general population. Data from the National Burn Repository (NBR) were used to investigate incidence, demographics, and outcomes in relation to use of cannabis as evidenced by urine drug screen (UDS). Thousands of patients from the NBR from 2002 to 2011 were included in this retrospective study. Inclusion criteria were patients older than 12 years of age who received a drug screen. Data points analyzed were patients' age, sex, UDS status, mechanism of burn injury, total body surface area, length of stay, ICU days, and insurance characteristics. Incidence of cannabis use in burn patients from the NBR was compared against national general population rates (gathered by Health and Human Services) using chi-square tests. Additionally, the burn patient population was analyzed using bivariate analysis and t-tests to find differences in the characteristics of these patients as well as differences in outcomes. Seventeen thousand eighty out of over 112,000 patients from NBR had information available for UDS. The incidence of cannabis use is increasing among the general population, but the rate is increasing more quickly among patients in the burn patient population (P = .0022). In 2002, 6.0% of patients in burn units had cannabis+ UDS, which was comparable with national incidence of 6.2%. By 2011, 27.0% of burn patients tested cannabis+ while national incidence of cannabis use was 7.0%. Patients who test cannabis+ are generally men (80.1%, P < .0001) and are younger on average (35 years old vs 42, P < .0001). The most common mechanisms of injury among patients who test cannabis+ or cannabis- are similar. Flame injury makes up >60% of injuries, followed by scalds that are >15%. In comparing cannabis+/- patients, cannabis+ patients are more likely to be uninsured (25.2% vs 17.26%, P < .0001). Finally, patients who test cannabis+ have larger burns (TBSA% of 12.94 vs 10.98, P < .0001), have a longer length of stay (13.31 days vs 12.6, P = .16), spend more days in the ICU (7.84 vs 6.39, P = .0006), and have more operations (2.78 vs 2.05, P < .0001). The rate patients testing positive for cannabis in burn units is growing quickly. These patients are younger and are less likely to be insured. These patients also have larger burns, spend more time in ICUs, and have a greater number of operations. The increasing use of cannabis, as expected from legalization of cannabis in multiple states, among burn patient population may lead to increased burden on already tenuous health care resources.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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