Author(s): Leslie CL, Cushman M, McDonald GS, Joshi W, Maynard AM, Leslie CL, Cushman M, McDonald GS, Joshi W, Maynard AM
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Abstract The objective of the study was to evaluate the effectiveness of triage, treatment, and transfer interventions on multiple burn casualties managed in a high volume ED that does not have a verified in-hospital burn unit. The charts of 11 male patients injured in a 1999 foundry explosion and brought to Baystate Medical Center (BMC), a level I trauma center, were reviewed. All patients sustained deep partial and full thickness burns. The injury severity score (ISS) ranged from 9 to 75. Five patients had total body surface area (TBSA) burns of 10\% to 50\% and 6 patients had TBSA burns of 70\% to 95\%. Transfer times from the scene to BMC ranged from less than 5 minutes to 22 minutes. All 11 were initially triaged, resuscitated, and evaluated at BMC. Of the 9 patients transferred to verified burn units, 8 were intubated, 6 of 6 had negative abdominal ultrasounds, 4 had undergone escharatomies, and 1 had undergone bronchoscopy before transfer. Nine critically injured burn patients with ISS of 9 to 75 were transferred from BMC to verified burn units. For 8 of these patients, the average time from triage, evaluation, and treatment to transfer was 2 hours. The ninth patient was initially admitted overnight then promptly transferred after re-evaluation of his hand burns indicated a need for more specialized care. Two of 9 transferred patients, both with ISS of 75 died. Although 7 other patients had prolonged and complex courses, none of their subsequent complications were referable to missed injuries from this transferring facility. The resources and expertise of a high volume ED without an in-hospital burn unit can be effectively used in the initial resuscitation and treatment of multiple burn casualties. Coordinated responses among emergency medicine, trauma, anesthesia, and nursing personnel are instrumental to the rapid triage, resuscitation, and treatment of critically injured burn patients. Future disaster planning should incorporate a clearly demarcated, ED command center led by an easily identifiable "captain of the ship," as well as more accurate patient identification systems and improved communications with family members.
This article was published in Am J Emerg Med
and referenced in Journal of Defense Management