Influence of Comorbidities and Age on Outcome Following Burn Injury in Older Adults

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Despite advances in medical and surgical techniques, older adults tend to be at high risk for adverse outcomes following burn injury. The purpose of this study was to examine the relative impacts of age and medical comorbidities on outcome following injury in a cohort of older adults. This was a retrospective study of all patients age 55 and over admitted to the University of Washington Burn Center from 1999 to 2003. To examine the effect of baseline medical comorbidities on outcome, a Charlson Comorbidity Index score was calculated for each patient. Multivariate regression analyses were used to examine the impact of age and comorbidities on mortality and other complications. Patient records were also matched with the National Death Index to determine the effects of age and comorbidities on mortality within 1 year following hospital discharge. A total of 325 patients who were of 55 years and older were admitted to the burn center during the 5-year study period. The overall mortality rate was 18.5%. Mortality was independently associated with age, inhalation injury, and burn size. One-year mortality was significantly associated with those older than age 75 and the Charlson score. Longer length of stay was significantly associated with burn size, inhalation injury, and total number of in-hospital complications. This study demonstrates that patient age—independent of baseline medical comorbidities—and TBSA burn are the most significant factors impacting in-hospital mortality risk following burn injury. Higher number of medical comorbidities was associated with increased mortality risk within 1 year following discharge.

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