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PLoS By Category | Recent PLoS Articles
Critical Care and Emergency Medicine - Non-Clinical Medicine - Public Health and Epidemiology - Surgery

Harborview Burns – 1974 to 2009
Published: Thursday, July 05, 2012
Author: Loren H. Engrav et al.

by Loren H. Engrav, David M. Heimbach, Frederick P. Rivara, Kathleen F. Kerr, Turner Osler, Tam N. Pham, Sam R. Sharar, Peter C. Esselman, Eileen M. Bulger, Gretchen J. Carrougher, Shari Honari, Nicole S. Gibran

Background

Burn demographics, prevention and care have changed considerably since the 1970s. The objectives were to 1) identify new and confirm previously described changes, 2) make comparisons to the American Burn Association National Burn Repository, 3) determine when the administration of fluids in excess of the Baxter formula began and to identify potential causes, and 4) model mortality over time, during a 36-year period (1974–2009) at the Harborview Burn Center in Seattle, WA, USA.

Methods and Findings

14,266 consecutive admissions were analyzed in five-year periods and many parameters compared to the National Burn Repository. Fluid resuscitation was compared in five-year periods from 1974 to 2009. Mortality was modeled with the rBaux model. Many changes are highlighted at the end of the manuscript including 1) the large increase in numbers of total and short-stay admissions, 2) the decline in numbers of large burn injuries, 3) that unadjusted case fatality declined to the mid-1980s but has changed little during the past two decades, 4) that race/ethnicity and payer status disparity exists, and 5) that the trajectory to death changed with fewer deaths occurring after seven days post-injury. Administration of fluids in excess of the Baxter formula during resuscitation of uncomplicated injuries was evident at least by the early 1990s and has continued to the present; the cause is likely multifactorial but pre-hospital fluids, prophylactic tracheal intubation and opioids may be involved.

Conclusions

1) The dramatic changes include the rise in short-stay admissions; as a result, the model of burn care practiced since the 1970s is still required but is no longer sufficient. 2) Fluid administration in excess of the Baxter formula with uncomplicated injuries began at least two decades ago. 3) Unadjusted case fatality declined to ~6% in the mid-1980s and changed little since then. The rBaux mortality model is quite accurate.

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