Epidemiology of adults hospitalized with burns in Karachi, Pakistan

Document Type



Community Health Sciences


Burns are a leading cause of adult death in Karachi slums, therefore we reviewed 1 year's logged experience (November 1992 to October 1993) at Karachi's two adult burn units for patient age, sex, burn severity and outcome. Also 47 inpatients were interviewed regarding their circumstances of injury. We grouped these using Haddon's Matrix. The log identified 832 patients. Females (57 per cent) outnumbered males and were younger on average (25.1 vs 27.6 years, P = 0.002). Females had more severe burns than males (57 per cent vs 50 per cent total body surface area (TBSA) burn, P = 0.002). At the unit with outcome data (n = 556), the case fatality was 56 per cent. The estimated adult mortality due to burns in Karachi was 10.2/100 000, 6.8/100 000 and 14.1/100 000 for men and women, respectively. Burns of interviewed patients were most often associated with flames (33/47), but stove bursts caused the most severe injury (52 per cent TBSA). These patients were predominantly young uneducated female houseworkers, clothed in loose attire who were injured during daylight at home around a floor-level stove, unaware of fire safety, and who received no first aid. It was concluded that the high burn severity and case fatality rates demand: (1) preventive measures, such as kitchen sand buckets, safer stove design and placement and education on fire safety and first aid, and (2) risk factor analysis to refine interventions.