Very few children in the U.S. who suffer significant burn injuries are transferred to specialized burn centers for evaluation and care, contrary to current medical recommendations, a new study has found.
The study of pediatric burn patients, published in the September issue of the medical journal Burns, concluded that almost none of the children treated in the hospital were sent to a burn care unit, prompting the authors to call for clearer guidelines.
The researchers analyzed 2012 data collected from hospital emergency rooms throughout the U.S. Of the nearly 127,000 children who were treated for burn injuries in hospitals that year, nearly 70,000 suffered significant burns – about 189 per day.
According to the study, about 90 percent of the children with significant burn injuries treated in hospitals that handled few burn injury cases received care at the emergency room and were released. About 5.6 percent were transferred to another hospital for treatment, and four percent were admitted to the hospital from the ER and not transferred.
According to HealthDay News, American Burn Association recommendations advise physicians to refer children with significant burns to a burn center for evaluation and care.
The study researchers also said the American Burn Association should have clearer guidelines for following up on pediatric burn-injury patients.
“While the majority of children treated without being transferred are likely receiving adequate burn care in the emergency department or possibly with outpatient follow-up care, [American Burn Association] guidelines do not specify when outpatient follow-up is appropriate,” said senior study author Krista Wheeler of the Center for Pediatric Trauma Research and the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.