n South African Medical Journal - Prehospital cooling of severe burns : experience of the Emergency Department at Edendale Hospital, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa : research




Early cooling with 10 - 20 minutes of cool running water up to 3 hours after a burn has a direct impact on the depth of the burn and therefore on the clinical outcome of the injury. An assessment of the early cooling of burns is essential to improve this aspect of burns management.

To assess the rates and adequacy of prehospital cooling received by patients with severe burns before presentation to the Emergency Department (ED) at Edendale Hospital, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. Patients with inadequate prehospital cooling who presented to the ED within 3 hours were also identified.
A retrospective review of the burns database for all the patients with severe burns admitted from the ED at Edendale Hospital from September 2012 to August 2013 was undertaken. Demographic details, characteristics and timing of the burns, and presentation were correlated with burn cooling.
Ninety patients were admitted with severe burns. None received sufficient cooling of their burns, 25.6% received cooling of inadequate duration, and 32.3% arrived at the ED within 3 hours after the burn with either inadequate or no cooling. The median time to presentation to the ED after the burn was 260 minutes.
Appropriate cooling of severe burns presenting to Edendale Hospital is inadequate. Education of the community and prehospital healthcare workers about the importance of early appropriate cooling of severe burns is required. Many patients would benefit from cooling of their burns in the ED, and facilities should be provided for this vital function.


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