Do Burns Increase the Severity of Terror Injuries?


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Abstract

The use of explosives and suicide bombings has become more frequent since October 2000. This change in the nature of terror attacks has marked a new era in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. We previously reported that the incidence of thermal injuries has since risen. However, the rise in the incidence of burns among victims of terror was proportionate to the rise in the incidence of burns among all trauma victims. This paper presents data from the Israeli National Trauma Registry during the years 1997–2003, to compare the severity of injuries and outcome (mortality rates) in terror victims with and without burn injuries. We also compare the severity of injuries and outcome (mortality rates) for patients with terror-attack related burns to non terror-attack related burns during the same period. Data was obtained from the Israeli National Trauma Registry for all patients admitted to 8 to 10 hospitals in Israel between 1997 and 2003. We analyzed and compared demographic and clinical characteristics of 219 terror-related burn patients (terror/burn), 2228 terror patients with no associated burns (Terror/no-burn) and 6546 non terror related burn patients (burn/no-terror). Severity of injuries was measured using the injury severity score, and burn severity by total body surface percentage indices. Admission rates to Intensive Care Units (ICU) and total length of hospitalization were also used to measure severity of injuries. In-hospital mortality rates were used to indicate outcome. Of burn/terror patients, 87.2% suffered other accompanying injuries, compared with 10.4% of burn/no-terror patients. Of burn/terror patients, 49.8% were admitted to ICU compared with only 11.9% of burn/no-terror patients and 23.8% of no-burn/terror patients. Mean length of hospital stay was 18.5 days for the terror/burn group compared with 11.1 days for the burn/no-terror group and 9.5 days for the terror/no-burn group. Burn/terror patients had a significantly higher injury severity score compared with the other groups. In-hospital mortality rate for the burn/no-terror group was 3.4%. The burn/terror group had a mortality rate of 6.4% which was similar to the no-burn/terror group (6.6%). Terror-attack injuries with accompanying burns have a more complex presentation, are of higher severity, and are associated with increased length of hospital stay and a higher ICU admissions rate, compared with terror-attack injuries without burns and non terror-attack related burns. However, mortality rates in terror-attack injuries are not affected by burns.

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