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Burns. 1993 Jun;19(3):192-7.

Burns in the disabled.

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Ross Tilley Burn Centre, Wellesley Hospital, Toronto, Canada.


A retrospective analysis of 812 patients admitted to the Ross Tilley Burn Centre between 1984 and 1992 resulted in 37 cases of burn injuries which were directly related to premorbid disabilities. The majority of these burns (83.8 per cent) occurred in the patient's home, most commonly as scald injuries in the bath tub, the shower, or following hot water spills. Nineteen patients were male, 17 were female. The median age was 58 years. Six patients had spinal cord disorders: four had traumatic cord damage, two had spina bifida. Six patients had seizure disorders. Five of these patients had been taking anti-seizure medications, but all had subtherapeutic blood levels on admission to hospital. Two patients had diabetes mellitus with peripheral neuropathies. Thirteen patients had four miscellaneous neurological disorders, including: tardive dyskinesia (two), CVA (four), Parkinson's disease (two), Alzheimer's disease (two), cerebral palsy (one), multiple sclerosis (one) and blindness (one). Three patients had a diagnosis of syncope. Two patients had emphysema, and four were morbidly obese. The average length of stay (LOS) for the disabled patients was 27.6 days for a median burn size of 10 per cent body surface area (BSA), compared to an average LOS for the general population of 25.7 days for a larger median burn size of 21 per cent BSA. The mortality rate was also much higher in the disabled population (22.2 per cent vs. 6.0 per cent). Most of these burn injuries were preventable. A series of burn prevention guidelines is presented, in an attempt to reduce the incidence of these burn injuries in disabled patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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