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What do I do about a severe burn injury?

Burn injuries have recently reached epidemic proportions, with 2.4 million such injuries reported each year with at least 50% of all burn injuries being preventable but for the negligence of others.

Burn injuries might have been the result of:

  • Auto Fires
  • Building Fires
  • Chemical Burns - are often associated with industrial accidents. The chemical compounds that can cause moderate to severe burns include strong acids or bases; these compounds are found in cleaning products, battery fluid, pool chemicals, and drain cleaners. The severity of chemical burns may be deceptive. Hydrofluoric acid, for instance, can eat to the bone before the extent of the burn injury becomes evident.
  • Defective Products
  • Electrocution & Electrical Burns - can have many causes including high voltage wires, damaged electrical cords, and electrical outlets. The internal injuries that may result from an electrical burn are not always evident in that the visible burns may simply be small entry and exit points of the electrical current.
  • Explosions
  • Flammable Clothing
  • Flammable Liquids
  • Industrial Accidents
  • Propane
  • Smoke Detectors
  • Smoke Inhalation Injuries - to the airways can be caused by inhaling smoke, steam, or toxic fumes. The injury may be intensified if the victim is inhaling within a poorly ventilated space.
  • Thermal Burns - are common and may be caused by flame, steam, hot metals, hot oil or grease, hot liquids (“scald burns”), fireworks, space heaters, electrical malfunctions, or improperly stored flammable liquids such as gasoline. Thermal burns resulting from explosions – such as from gas tanks, car accidents, boat accidents, and airplane accidents – can be swift and severe when fuel and clothing ignite.

A major partial thickness (second-degree) or full thickness (third-degree) burn injury is one of the most severe and traumatic injuries a person can suffer. The financial, mental and physical costs of recovering from a burn injury are staggering. Serious burn injuries, whether diagnosed as second or third degree burns, often require long-term hospitalization, skin grafting, rehabilitation, and extensive psychological counseling to help overcome the mental trauma associated with a burn injury.

Burns are complicated injuries; they affect not only the skin but muscles, nerves, blood vessels, and bone. Burns also affect body temperature, body fluids, dexterity, and physical appearance. A severe burn injury may have far-reaching consequences in terms of emotional and psychological damage.

Depending on a number of factors, some burn injury are inherently more serious. For example:

  • Burns to the face are more serious because they may affect the victim’s breathing or eyesight. Burns to the hands and feet are serious because they can limit the mobility of fingers and toes.
  • Higher degree burns mean deeply exposed tissue and therefore a greater risk of infection to the burn injury.
  • The total body surface area (or TBSA) refers to the percentage of the body that received the burn injury. Each area of the body is assigned a different percentage.
  • Children and senior citizens are at greater risk; they may experience more extreme physical reactions to burns, and they have different healing capabilities.
  • Victims who have a respiratory illness, heart condition, kidney disease, or diabetes are at greater risk for a more severe burn injury than those who do not.

A burn injury is one of the most painful injuries that a person can experience. Millions of people are burned each year, and of these, thousands will die. Many victims require specialized hospitalization or long-term care for complications. Skin grafts, deformities, dexterity problems, and scarring may require extensive therapy. A burn victim may also require psychiatric care.

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