Burn injuries are a significant problem in the United States. In 2016, there was an estimated incidence of 486,000 burn injuries that required medical treatment and 3,275 people died from fire or smoke inhalation. Roughly, one civilian fire death occurs every 2 hours and 41 minutes and the odds of a US resident dying from exposure to fire, flames, or smoke is 1 in 1,442.
While many people with burn injuries can be treated on an outpatient basis, a significant number of these injuries will require hospitalization. In 2016, there were 40,000 hospitalizations in the US related to burn injury, and among the hospitalized patients, the survival rate was 97%.
The Legacy Oregon Burn Center (OBC) was established in 1973, and our surgical and burn specialists have proudly partnered with Legacy on their burn team from the very beginning. Located on the Legacy Emanuel campus, the OBC is the only facility of its kind between Seattle and Sacramento, and it is a national leader in burn care as verified by the American Burn Association and the American College of Surgeons. As the designated burn specialists on the medical team, The Oregon Clinic Surgical and Burn physicians provide high quality care for pediatric and adult patients with simple to life-threatening burn injuries, necrotizing soft tissue infections, and complex skin conditions such as Stevens-Johnson Syndrome and Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis.
The OBC and the physicians of The Oregon Clinic’s surgical and burn division treat approximately 250 burn admissions and 100 other complex admissions per year, along with 2,100 clinic visits and nearly 900 consults from other hospitals. Flame burns are the most common type of burn injury seen for all ages other than children less than 5 years old, who are most commonly treated for scald burns.
Besides treatment, the OBC also has a robust outreach program where the burn team visits and engages with hospitals, providers and first responders throughout Western, Eastern, and Central Oregon. Educational efforts have included teaching classes in Advanced Burn Life Support and review of cases treated and referred to the OBC from the referring hospitals. These efforts were recently recognized nationally by the American Burn Association as a key strength of the OBC.
Members of the burn team provide an active burn survivor program that helps survivors return to their normal lives through work and school reentry programs. Recently, the team traveled to eastern Oregon to help a six-year-old girl return to school following recovery from a months-long hospitalization to treat her extensive burn injuries. Her classmates and teachers were educated on burns and ways that a child may be different following a burn injury – and both the child’s family and school were grateful for the visit.
The burn team is also working on creative ways to reduce patients’ pain after burn injury, particularly the pain that occurs with the treatments necessary to help burn wounds heal without infection or complications. One treatment uses virtual reality, which has been shown to help reduce the amount of pain medication required. The Oregon Burn Center’s success with this treatment was recently featured by Oregon Public Broadcasting, as well as the Journal of Burn Care and Research.
For many medical conditions arising from accidents, and especially in traumatic injuries, prevention efforts are critical. The first week of February is annually designated as Burn Awareness Week and the American Burn Association has many burn safety tips listed on the Prevention tab of their website (ameriburn.org).