The Burden of Burns: An Analysis of Public Health Measures

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Journal of Burn Care & Research


Accurate analysis of injuries is paramount when allocating resources for prevention, research, education, and legislation. As burn mortality has improved over recent decades, the societal burden of burn injuries has grown ambiguous to the public while a scarcity of investigational funding for survivors has led to a gap in understanding lifelong sequela. We aim to compare national references reporting the incidence of burn injuries in the United States. The American Burn Association Burn Injury Summary Report (ABA-BISR), American Burn Association Fact Sheet, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting (WISQARS) database, the CDC National Center for Health Statistics' National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NHAMCS), National Inpatient Sample (NIS), National Emergency Department Sample (NEDS), and commercially available claims databases were queried for 2020 or the most recent data available. The BISR estimated 30,135 burn admissions in 2022. The 2016 ABA Fact Sheet reported 486,000 burns presented to US emergency departments (ED). In 2020, CDC's WISQARS database reported 3,529 fatal, and 287,926 non-fatal, burn injuries. The 2020 NEDS reported 438,185 ED visits while the 2020 NIS estimated 103,235 inpatients. The NHAMCS reported 359,000 ED visits for burn injuries in the same period, and an analysis of ICD-10 burn codes demonstrated over 698,555 claims. Our study demonstrates a large variability in the reported incidence of burn injury by the ABA, CDC, national samples, and claims databases. Per our analyses, we estimate that 600,000 individuals annually suffer a burn injury which merits emergent care in the United States.

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