The organisation of critical care for burn patients in the UK: epidemiology and comparison of mortality prediction models

This article by Toft-Petersen and colleagues was published on-line in Anaesthesia in May 2018.
In the UK, a network of specialist centres has been set up to provide critical care for burn patients. However, some burn patients are admitted to general intensive care units. Little is known about the casemix of these patients and how it compares with patients in specialist burn centres. It is not known whether burn-specific or generic risk prediction models perform better when applied to patients managed in intensive care units. We examined admissions for burns in the Case Mix Programme Database from April 2010 to March 2016. The casemix, activity and outcome in general and specialist burn intensive care units were compared and the fit of two burn-specific risk prediction models (revised Baux and Belgian Outcome in Burn Injury models) and one generic model (Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre model) were compared. Patients in burn intensive care units had more extensive injuries compared with patients in general intensive care units (median (IQR [range]) burn surface area 16 (7-32 [0-98])% vs. 8 (1-18 [0-100])%, respectively) but in-hospital mortality was similar (22.8% vs. 19.0%, respectively). The discrimination and calibration of the generic Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre model was superior to the revised Baux and Belgian Outcome in Burn Injury burn-specific models for patients managed on both specialist burn and general intensive care units.
The physical copy of Anaesthesia is available in the Healthcare Library on Level D of Rotherham Hospital.  However, this article has not yet been published in a physical issue and is only available on-line.  The full text of the article can be accessed by personal subscribers using this link.

Early management of paediatric burn injuries

Gill, P. & Falder, S. Paediatrics and Child Health | Published online: 21 April 2017

B0006880 Skin cells from a scald
Image source: Anne Weston, LRI, CRUK – Wellcome Images // CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Image shows skin cells from a scald

Burns are a common form of trauma in children, resulting most frequently from scalds but also contact, flame, electrical and chemical sources. Burn patients have a wide spectrum of injury severity and diverse outcome, ranging from superficial burns with no lasting physical signs to deep, large body surface area burns which are profoundly life-changing, affecting all physiological systems. Size, site and depth are important factors affecting treatment and outcome.

There are important anatomical, physiological and psychosocial differences between adults and children. Their body proportions are different, they have thinner skin, smaller airways, reduced blood volume and high levels of distress. They are vulnerable to non-accidental injury.

Children require formal fluid resuscitation and maintenance fluids for burns more than 10% total body surface area. Complications include infection, toxic shock syndrome, adverse scarring and psychological sequelae. This paper discusses how correct assessment and management in the acute stage can reduce later morbidity and mortality.

Read the full abstract here

Critical Care Reviews Newsletter 274 12th March 2017

The Critical Care Reviews Newsletter, provides the best critical care research and open access articles from across the medical literature in the last week.  The highlights of this week’s edition are a guideline on healthcare-associated ventriculitis and meningitis, narrative reviews on status epilepticus, lactic acidosis and critical burn injuries, plus a debate on the usefulness of IVC diameter guided fluid resuscitation.

The full newsletter can be accessed via this link.

Use of Essential Oils Following Traumatic Burn Injury: A Case Study

Jopke, K. et al. Journal of Pediatric Nursing. Published online: January 14 2017



  • This study presents treatment and health outcomes of two children with similar histories of extensive burns.
  • In many health care settings, including post surgery, patients and families are supplementing care with essential oils.
  • Case B’s maternal grandmother supplemented her granddaughter’s care with essential oils.
  • Essential oils may inhibit microbial growth, support wound treatment and facilitate healing however, more research is needed.

Read the full abstract here

Reciprocal Risk of Acute Kidney Injury and Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome in Critically Ill Burn Patients

Clemens, M. (2016) Critical Care Medicine. 44(10). pp.e915–e922

Objective: To evaluate the association between acute respiratory distress syndrome and acute kidney injury with respect to their contributions to mortality in critically ill patients.

Design: Retrospective analysis of consecutive adult burn patients requiring mechanical ventilation.

Setting: A 16-bed burn ICU at tertiary military teaching hospital.

Patients: Adult patients more than 18 years old requiring mechanical ventilation during their initial admission to our burn ICU from January 1, 2003, to December 31, 2011.

Measurements and Main Results: A total 830 patients were included, of whom 48.2% had acute kidney injury (n = 400). These patients had a 73% increased risk of developing acute respiratory distress syndrome after controlling for age, gender, total body surface area burned, and inhalation injury (hazard ratio, 1.73; 95% CI, 1.18–2.54; p = 0.005). In a reciprocal multivariate analysis, acute respiratory distress syndrome (n = 299; 36%) demonstrated a strong trend toward developing acute kidney injury (hazard ratio, 1.39; 95% CI, 0.99–1.95; p = 0.05). There was a 24% overall in-hospital mortality (n = 198). After adjusting for the aforementioned confounders, both acute kidney injury (hazard ratio, 3.73; 95% CI, 2.39–5.82; p < 0.001) and acute respiratory distress syndrome (hazard ratio, 2.16; 95% CI, 1.58–2.94; p < 0.001) significantly contributed to mortality. Age, total body surface area burned, and inhalation injury were also significantly associated with increased mortality.

Conclusions: Acute kidney injury increases the risk of acute respiratory distress syndrome in mechanically ventilated burn patients, whereas acute respiratory distress syndrome similarly demonstrates a strong trend toward the development of acute kidney injury. Acute kidney injury and acute respiratory distress syndrome are both independent risks for subsequent death. Future research should look at this interplay for possible early interventions.

Read the abstract here

Fluid resuscitation management in patients with burns: update

Guilabert, P. et al. (2016) British Journal of Anaesthesia. 117 (3). pp.284-296.

Image source: LeoCarbajal – Wikipedia // CC BY-SA 3.0

Since 1968, when Baxter and Shires developed the Parkland formula, little progress has been made in the field of fluid therapy for burn resuscitation, despite advances in haemodynamic monitoring, establishment of the ‘goal-directed therapy’ concept, and the development of new colloid and crystalloid solutions.

Burn patients receive a larger amount of fluids in the first hours than any other trauma patients. Initial resuscitation is based on crystalloids because of the increased capillary permeability occurring during the first 24 h. After that time, some colloids, but not all, are accepted. Since the emergence of the Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee alert from the European Medicines Agency concerning hydroxyethyl starches, solutions containing this component are not recommended for burns. But the question is: what do we really know about fluid resuscitation in burns?

To provide an answer, we carried out a non-systematic review to clarify how to quantify the amount of fluids needed, what the current evidence says about the available solutions, and which solution is the most appropriate for burn patients based on the available knowledge.

Read the abstract here

Nutrition in burn injury: any recent changes?.

Berger, M. & Pantet O. Current Opinion in Critical Care. Post Author Corrections: June 16, 2016
Image source: Justine Desmond – Wellcome Images // CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Purpose of review: After major progress in the 1980s of burn resuscitation resulting, the last years’ research has focused on modulation of metabolic response and optimization of substrate utilization. The persisting variability of clinical practice is confirmed and results in difficult comparisons between burn centers.

Recent findings: Recent research explores intracellular mechanisms of the massive metabolic turmoil observed after burns: very early alterations at the mitochondrial level largely explain the hypermetabolic response, with a diminished coupling of oxygen consumption and ATP production. The metabolic alterations (elevated protein and glucose turnover) have been shown to be long lasting. Modulating this response by pharmacological tools (insulin, propranolol, and oxandrolone) results in significant clinical benefits. A moderate glucose control proves to be safe in adult burns; data in children remain uncertain as the risk of hypoglycemia seems to be higher. The enteral feeding route is confirmed as an optimal route: some difficulties are now clearly identified, such as the risk of not delivering sufficient energy by this route.

Summary: Major burn patients differ from other critically ill patients by the magnitude and duration of their inflammatory and metabolic responses, their energy and substrate requirements. Pieces of the metabolic puzzle finally seem to fit together.

Read the abstract here