Epidemiology and Outcomes of Older Adults With Burn Injury: An Analysis of the National Burn Repository

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Improvements in outcomes for older adults sustaining burn injuries have lagged far behind those of younger patients. As this segment of the population grows, there has been an increasing interest in better understanding the epidemiology and outcomes of injury in older adults. The National Burn Repository (NBR) provides a unique opportunity to examine burn injuries on a national level. We aimed to characterize specific injury and outcome trends in older adult with burns through analysis of the NBR. We examined the records of all patients in the NBR aged 55 and older. To characterize age effects on injury and outcomes, patients were stratified into three age categories: 55 to 64 years, 65 to 74 years, and 75 years and older. Baseline characteristics, details of hospital treatment, mortality, and disposition were compared among these three age groups using χ2 or analysis of variance. Logistic regression analysis was performed to assess the impact of age on burn mortality. A total of 180,401 patient records were available from 1991 to 2005, of which 23,180 (14%) met age inclusion criteria. Mean burn size (9.6% TBSA) and percent with inhalation injury (11.3%) did not markedly differ by age. Men predominated overall (ratio 1.4:1), although women (4290) outnumbered men (3439) in the oldest age category. Length of stay per TBSA and median hospital charges increased with increasing age category, suggesting higher resource consumption with aging. Mean number of operations per patient, however, decreased with age. Mortality rates and discharge to nonindependent status increased with age. By logistic regression, the adjusted odds ratio for mortality was 2.3 (95% CI 2.1–2.7) in the 65 to 74 age group, and 5.4 (95% CI 4.8–6.1) in the oldest group when compared with the 55 to 64 age group. Mortality rates decreased significantly after 2001 across all age groups. This analysis demonstrates age-dependent differences in resource utilization and mortality risk within the older burn population and highlights the need for a national research agenda focused on management practices and outcomes in older adult with burns.

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