Initial assessment and management of burns
How to examine, treat, and refer severe burns injuries
- By: Philip McCaughey, Sandra McAllister
Burns represent a substantial healthcare burden, accounting for more than 300 000 global deaths annually.1 In the United Kingdom, an estimated 250 000 patients present to primary care with a burns injury every year and 175 000 attend emergency departments,23 so medical students are highly likely to encounter such patients during rotations. Most burns occur at home, and children are more likely than adults to be scalded.4
Many burns can be adequately managed with appropriate first aid treatment at home or in primary care. In more severe cases, however, prompt recognition, assessment, and appropriate management can be life saving.
The initial management has an important effect on the patient’s long term outcome, so your interventions can have a positive impact. Initial management consists of following a structured plan and frequently reassessing the patient’s condition and response to what you are doing. This article aims to provide you with a basic understanding of the