According to the American Burn Association, nearly half a million patients require hospitalization and ER treatment for burns each year in the U.S.
According to the American Burn Association, nearly half a million patients require hospitalization and ER treatment for burns each year in the U.S. This statistic does not take into account those burn injuries treated in community health centers or private physicians’ offices. Sadly, about 3,400 people suffer burn injuries each year, including a fire-related death every 169 minutes and a fire-related injury every half hour.
Common Causes of Burn Injuries
- Fire or flame burns account for about 44 percent of all admissions to a burn center.
- Scalding injuries caused by wet or moist heat account for 33 percent of all burn center admissions.
- Nine percent of all those admitted to a burn center are the result of direct contact with a heat source.
- Four percent of those admitted to a burn center were burned by an electrical source.
- Three percent of burn center admissions are due to chemical burns.
- The remaining seven percent are by miscellaneous or unknown sources.
Despite the Number of Advances Made in the Treatments for Burn Victims, the Consequences of a Severe Burn Are Profound
Enhanced wound coverage, better management of inhalation injuries, improved infection control, and resuscitation advancements have all helped burn victims survive the trauma associated with their injuries. Complex metabolic changes, which negatively affect every organ, are nonetheless present in most serious burns. Patient management following a severe burn injury is a long-term process bringing physical, psychological, financial, and social consequences.
Victims of serious, 3rd and 4th degree burns may spend weeks or even months in a hospital’s burn treatment center. The amount of time the burn victim is likely to spend in the burn ward is dependent on how much of the body has been burned and whether the lungs are damaged from smoke inhalation.
Long-term Issues Associated with Severe Burns
The areas of the skin which suffered severe burns will likely require long-term special care. When a patient suffers 3rd or 4th degree burns, the sweat glands can be destroyed; therefore, burn survivors often have difficulty living in hot or humid climates and frequently need to avoid getting overheated, whether from work or exercise. With deeper burns, touch sensations may be greatly decreased, making it difficult to sense hot or cold sensations or heavy or light pressure. Skin tone in grafted areas may vary greatly, although as time passes the areas may begin to blend together. If the skin’s sebaceous glands are destroyed, the burn victim must apply lotion daily to protect the delicate skin.
The Psychological Impact of Burn Injuries
Burn injuries are extremely traumatic, both for the burn victim and the family of the burn victim. Burn victims who were burned in the face or neck may also suffer psychological damage. In particular, disfigurement can cause hurtful reactions from others and depression in the victim. The sudden, permanent changes to the burn victim’s life can cause isolation from others. Professional help is crucial for burn victims in order to deal with the emotions that accompany such trauma.
Complications Associated with Severe Burn Injuries
Infection is the most common complication of burn injuries; however, there are other potential complications as well. Burn victims may have a compromised immune system, an increased risk of developing cancer at the burn site, cosmetic damage requiring reconstructive surgery or surgeries, and adrenal insufficiency. Perhaps one of the most serious, long-lasting complications of burn injuries is the pain associated with those burns.
During the first emergency phase, the pain associated with the burns is intense; the procedures necessary to keep the patient alive brings excruciating pain levels. During the second phase, wounds must be debrided in order to expose a layer of healthy blood vessels, which also causes extreme pain. Finally, during the recovery phase–which can last a lifetime–the burn victim may experience chronic pain from damaged nerve tissues as well as chronic itching, numbness, and tingling. In order to manage this chronic and severe pain, long-term pain medications may be required.
Contact Our Experienced Personal Injury Lawyers
If you or someone you love has suffered a serious burn injury because of another person’s negligence, the experienced Pennsylvania personal injury lawyers at McLaughlin & Lauricella, P.C., can help.
Our team of lawyers consists of some of the best attorneys in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and we will fight aggressively for you throughout the legal process.
The personal injury attorneys at McLaughlin & Lauricella, P.C., have decades of experience representing injured accident victims and their families across Philadelphia, Berks, Bucks, Dauphin, Delaware, Lackawanna, Lehigh, Luzerne, Montgomery, and Northampton counties. Please call us at 215-568-1510 or contact us by email, to see what we can do for you.