Epidemiology

Approximately 1.25 million patients present to the emergency department (ED) with burn injuries in the United States each year and about 50,000 are hospitalized. 1 The majority of burn patients are treated and discharged from the ED to be followed as outpatients.

The risk of burns is highest in the 18- to 35-year-old age group. There is a male to female ratio of 2:1 for both injury and death. There is higher incidence of scalds from hot liquids in children 1 to 5 years of age and in the elderly. The death rate in patients over 65 years of age is much higher than that in the overall burn population.2

Significant strides have been made in the overall care of the burn patient during the last two decades. 3 These advances are reflected in a decreased mortality rate among patients with major thermal injury; only about 4 percent of those treated in specialized burn treatment centers die from their injuries or associated complications.4 The incidence of inpatient admissions has decreased over time owing to improvements in outpatient care both in the ED and in the burn unit. 13

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