Assessment of Outreach by a Regional Burn Center: Could Referral Criteria Revision Help with Utilization of Resources?

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Abstract

The objectives of this study were to identify trends in preburn center care, assess needs for outreach and education efforts, and evaluate resource utilization with regard to referral criteria. We hypothesized that many transferred patients were discharged home after brief hospitalizations and without need for operation. Retrospective chart review was performed for all adult and pediatric transfers to our regional burn center from July 2012 to July 2014. Details of initial management including TBSA estimation, fluid resuscitation, and intubation status were recorded. Mode of transport, burn center length of stay, need for operation, and in-hospital mortality were analyzed. In two years, our burn center received 1004 referrals from other hospitals including 713 inpatient transfers. Within this group, 621 were included in the study. Among transferred patients, 476 (77%) had burns less than 10% TBSA, 69 (11%) had burns between 10-20% TBSA, and 76 (12%) had burns greater than 20% TBSA. Referring providers did not document TBSA for 261 (42%) of patients. Among patients with less than 10% TBSA burns, 196 (41%) received fluid boluses. Among patients with TBSA < 10%, 196 (41%) were sent home from the emergency department or discharged within 24 hours, and an additional 144 (30%) were discharged within 48 hours. Overall, 187 (30%) patients required an operation. In-hospital mortality rates were 1.5% for patients who arrived by ground transport, 14.9% for rotor wing transport, and 18.2% for fixed wing transport. Future education efforts should emphasize the importance of calculating TBSA to guide need for fluid resuscitation and restricting fluid boluses to patients that are hypotensive. Clarifying the American Burn Association burn center referral criteria to distinguish between immediate transfer vs outpatient referral may improve patient care and resource utilization.

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