Acute Pavement Burns: A Unique Subset of Burn Injuries

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Abstract

This study focuses on the hospital care of a rare subset of burn injuries caused by contact with environmentally heated pavement, to further understand the required use of resources. This article aims to show that pavement burns are typically more severe than their flame/scald counterparts. A retrospective review of patients admitted to the burn center with injuries suffered from contact with hot pavement was performed. Patients were stratified on the presence or absence of altered mental status (AMS) and additional inciting factors. A representative sample of similarly sized flame and scald wounds treated in the same time period was compiled for comparison. Those with pavement burns had a significantly greater requirement for operative intervention, repetitive debridements, overall cost/percent burned, and lengthier hospital stays than those with flame/scald burns. Pavement burn victims with AMS were significantly more likely to require an operation, a greater cost/percent burned, and longer hospital stays than those without AMS. Pavement burns are significantly worse than similarly sized scald/flame burns with regards to length of stay and total hospital costs, and the necessity of initial and repetitive operative intervention. These discrepancies are even greater in patients with AMS as a concomitant inciting factor. It is apparent that these wounds often continue to deepen during a patient’s stay, likely because of continued pressure on the wounds while recumbent. As such, this article highly recommends pressure off-loading beds and more aggressive debridement in the treatment of these unique injuries.

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