The demographics of modern burn care: Should most burns be cared for by non-burn surgeons?

Gary A. Vercruysse, Walter L. Ingram, David V. Feliciano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Background: Minor burns represent .96% to 1.5% of emergency department visits, yet burn center referral is common. Analysis of the Grady Memorial Hospital Burn Center was conducted to examine the feasibility and savings if burns were managed locally with consultation as needed. Methods: Data on 776 consecutive admissions to Grady Memorial Hospital Burn Center between November 2005 and July 2007 were prospectively reviewed. National and international cohorts were compared. Results: Patients' mean age was 31 years, 69.8% were male, and 87% were insured. Thirty-nine percent were transfers. Seventy-six percent of transfers (51% of air transfers) and 70% of all admissions were for ≤10% total body surface area burns. Helicopter transport cost $12,500 and averaged 48 miles. Eighty percent of burns were hot water (scald), grease, or flame burns, and 31% required skin grafting. Conclusions: Most burns require assessment, debridement, and dressing changes. Grafting is rarely necessary. Patients are transferred because of a lack of training, and patients suffer economic burden and treatment delay. Savings could be realized were patients treated locally with select burn center referral. Video consultation and mentoring can help with triage and care of minor burns. Major burns require burn center referral. International practice reinforces these results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)91-96
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican journal of surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Burns
  • Training
  • Triage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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