Management of patients in a dedicated burns intensive care unit (BICU) in a developing country

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Background: In Pakistan the practice of managing extensive burns in dedicated intensive care units is not well established. This audit aims to define the characteristics of the victims of major burns and factors that increase mortality and outcome of the protocol-based management in a dedicated burns intensive care unit (BICU).PATIENTS AND Methods: This prospective audit included all patients admitted to the BICU of Suleiman Dawood Burns Unit in Karachi from 1st September 2002 to 31st August 2011. Demographic information, type and place of burn, total body surface area burn (TBSA), type of organ support provided, length of ICU stay, any associated medical diseases, and out outcome were documented.Results: A total of 1597 patients were admitted to the BICU in 9 years. Median age of the patients was 22 (IQR =32-7). 32% victims were children <14 years and only 7% were >50 years old. Male to female ratio was 1.4:1. Fire was the leading cause of burns in adults (64%) and scald burns were most common in (64%) in children. 72.4% of the accidents happened at home, where kitchen was the commonest location (597 cases). Mean TBSA burnt was 32.5% (SD ± 22.95%, 95%CI: 31.36-33.61). 27% patients needed ventilatory support, 4% were dialyzed and split skin graftings were performed in 20% patients. Average length of ICU stay was 10.42 days. Epilepsy, psychiatric illness and drug addiction were not common associations with burns. Overall mortality was 41.30% but it decreased over the years from 75% to 27%.CONCLUSIONS: Groups of people most vulnerable to sustain burn are young females getting burnt in the kitchen, young males getting burnt at work, and small children falling in pots of hot water stored for drinking or bathing. TBSA >40%, age >50 years, fire burn and female gender were associated with a higher risk of death. Carefully planned, protocol based management of burn patients by burn teams of dedicated healthcare professionals, even with limited resources reduced mortality.RECOMMENDATIONS: Burn hazard awareness, prevention and educational programmes targeted at the vulnerable population, i.e. women and young children at home and men at their work place is the single most cost-effective way of reducing the incidence of burns in developing countries.