Background: Burns are a major public health problem, with long hospitalization stay in both intensive care units and general wards. In Israel about 5% of all hospitalized injuries are burn injuries. There are no long-term epidemiological studies on burn injuries in adults in Israel.
Objectives: To identify risk factors for burn injuries and provide a starting point for the establishment of an effective prevention plan.
Methods: We analyzed the demographic, etiologic and clinical data of 5000 burn patients admitted to the five major hospitals with burn units in Israel during a 7 year period (1997–2003). Data were obtained from the records of the Israeli National Trauma Registry. The differences between various groups were evaluated using the chi-square test.
Results: Male gender was twice as frequent as female gender in burn patients (68.0% vs. 31.9%), and Jewish ethnicity was more common than non-Jewish (62.3% vs. 36.8%). Second and third-degree burns with body surface areas less than 10% constituted the largest group (around 50%). The largest age group was 0–1 years, constituting 22.2% of the cases. Inhalation injury was uncommon (1.9%). The most common etiologies were hot liquids (45.8%) and open fire (27.5%). Children less than 10 years old were burnt mainly by hot liquids while the main cause of burns for adults > 20 years old was an open flame. The majority of burns occurred at home (58%); around 15% were work related. The mean duration of hospitalization was 13.7 days (SD 17.7); 15.5% were in an intensive care unit with a mean duration of 12.1 days (SD 17.1). Surgical procedures became more common during the period of the study (from 13.4% in 1998 to 26.59% in 2002, average 19.8%). The mortality rate was 4.4%. We found a strong correlation between burn degree and total body surface area and mortality (0.25% mortality for 2nd to 3rd-degree burns with less than 10% TBSA, 5.4% for 2nd to 3rd-degree burns with 20–39% TBSA, and 96.6% for burns > 90% TBSA). The worst prognosis was for those over the age of 70 (mortality rate 35.3%) and the best prognosis was for the 0–1 year group (survival rate 99.6%).
Conclusions: The groups at highest risk were children 0–1 years old, males and non-Jews (the incidence rate among non-Jews was 1.5 times higher than their share in the general population). Those with the highest mortality rate were victims of burns > 90% TBSA and patients older than 70. Most burns occurred at home.