Total Care Requirements of Burn Patients: Implications for a Disaster Management Plan

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The purpose of this study was to determine the operative and ward-based requirements of burn patients as a first step in the development of a National Health Emergency Multiple Complex Burn Action Plan. A retrospective review of 1043 patients admitted to the National Burn Centre at Middlemore Hospital, Auckland, New Zealand, from June 2006 to June 2009 was undertaken. Outcome measures included the number of operative procedures, operative time, length of inpatient stay, nursing hours, and allied health hours. A mean of 0.3 operating theater visits and 22.8 minutes of operating time was needed per percentage total body surface area (TBSA) burn. Length of inpatient stay equated to 1.1 days per percentage TBSA burn. There was an exponential relationship between operative requirements and burn surface area. Total operating theater time could be predicted from a formula based on burn surface area, mean depth, and type of burn. Operative time required was greatest in the first week and roughly halved each week after this, whereas nursing and allied health hours remained relatively constant. On the basis of operative requirements in the first week, patients with acute burn injuries totaling up to 129% TBSA could be treated at one time at the authors' institution. This study provides an objective trigger point for the activation of a disaster plan and enables us to predict operative and staffing requirements on a week by week basis, taking into account the existing workload. This information can be used to plan both the acute and protracted phase of a national response to a burn disaster.

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