There are different categories of burn injuries, and a systematic approach to burn injury management requires identifying the burn injury and following the six C’s. Ehline Law and our burn injury attorneys have over 15 years of experience assisting burn injury victims in pursuing the compensation they deserve. We’ve compiled a guide for all burn injury victims to help them understand the risk factors and the six C’s to burn injury management.
Explaining the Different Classifications of Burns and Third-Degree Burns
There are four different categories of burns, including:
- First-degree burns: These burns only affect the outermost layer of skin, also known as the epidermis.
- Second-degree burns (also called partial thickness burns): These burns, also referred to as deep partial-thickness burns, affect both the epidermis and the underlying layer of skin, known as the dermis.
- Third-degree burns: These burns penetrate all layers of the skin and can also damage underlying tissues, such as muscles and bones.
- Fourth-degree burns are rare and are the most severe type of burn injury. Fourth-degree burns penetrate all layers of the skin and underlying tissues and can even affect internal organs.
Types of Burns
There are many different types of burns, but the most common ones include the following:
- Thermal burns: These are the most common type of burns and occur when the skin comes into contact with heat, fire, hot liquids, steam, or hot objects.
- Chemical burns: These occur when the skin or eyes come into contact with chemicals, such as acids, alkalis, or solvents.
- Electrical burns: These types of burns occur when the skin comes into contact with electricity, either through an electrical outlet, a lightning strike, or other electrical sources.
- Radiation burns occur when the skin comes into contact with high levels of radiation from the sun, tanning beds, or radiation therapy for cancer treatment.
- Friction burns: These types of burns occur when the skin is rubbed or scraped against a rough surface, such as a road rash from a motorcycle or bicycle accident.
If you experience a burn injury, you must immediately seek medical attention at a specialized burn center to receive proper treatment and prevent further complications.
Factors that Affect Mortality and Morbidity in Patients with Burn Injuries
The following are some of the factors that affect mortality and morbidity in burn injury patients:
- Size of burn: The greater the total body surface area burned, the higher the risk of mortality.
- The severity of the burn: A fourth-degree burn can be fatal compared to a first-degree burn or a superficial partial-thickness burn.
- Burn depth: Deeper burn injuries can lead to more damage to bones, muscles, tissues, and other parts, increasing the risk of mortality or infections.
- Location of burns: Lower extremity and facial burns are more likely to affect mortality than burns on different body parts.
- Age and health: An elderly person (age 65 or above) or a patient suffering from respiratory problems and other medical ailments has a higher mortality risk than younger health burn patients.
What Are the 6 C’s of Burns?
Following the six C’s is a systematic approach to treating burns and burn care management and includes the following.
It is crucial to remove the clothing immediately to stop the burning process. Sometimes, it can be difficult to remove parts of the clothing. In such situations, non-adherent clothing must be carefully removed while leaving the adherent clothing for cleaning.
When people suffer burn injuries, they must cool them immediately under running tap water as it can help relieve pain.
If you have a sterile saline solution at home, dip gauze into it, soak it with the solution, and apply it to the burn injury. The nurses at burn units will often use saline solution cooled at 12°C (53.6°F) to help cool down the tissues.
You must avoid placing ice or an ice pack on your burn injuries. Your body can go into a shock, or you might risk hypothermia.
A burned skin or wound has a greater risk of developing an infection, which is why it is critical to clean the wounds immediately. Cleaning burn wounds can be uncomfortable and painful, but a burn specialist can help minimize pain by applying topical anesthesia on the skin or injecting it into the wound.
Although disinfectants such as povidone-iodine solution (Betadine) can help wash out burn wounds, many research studies support using mild soap and tap water instead of disinfectants as they can inhibit the healing process.
Removing tar is also part of the cleaning process, and doctors may recommend using Polysporin for the next couple of days to help emulsify and remove residual tar.
Chemoprophylaxis involves using drugs to prevent diseases. The first cause of concern is tetanus in patients with superficial partial-thickness burns.
Diagnosing infection can be challenging, but some steps burn specialists follow to help determine an infection:
- Clinical evaluation: The first step would be to examine the burn wound for signs of infection, such as redness, warmth, swelling, and increased pain or tenderness. Signs of discharge, such as pus or fluid, and assessing the wound for any foul odor can also help diagnose an infection.
- Laboratory tests: In some cases, it may be difficult to diagnose infection in deep burn wounds, which is why medical professionals may recommend a blood test to assess the patient’s white blood cell count and differential, as an elevated count can indicate infection. A culture and sensitivity test of any discharge from the burn wound can help identify the type of bacteria causing the infection and determine the best antibiotic treatment.
Covering a burn serves multiple purposes, such as providing anesthetic relief, acting as a barrier against infection, and keeping the wound dry by absorbing fluids. The dressing type depends on the burn’s depth and location.
A skin lubricant such as aloe vera cream is sufficient for superficial burns, and patients should seek medical attention if blisters develop. However, all partial- and full-thickness burns may require sterile dressings.
After cleaning the burn and applying a thin layer of topical antibiotic, doctors apply fine mesh gauze like Telfa in successive strips to minimize circulatory impairment. A tubular net bandage can hold the dressing in place.
When dressings become excessively soaked with fluids, it is time to change them. Depending on the severity of the burn injuries, doctors may recommend changing dressings from twice daily to once a week. The medical staff gently removes the topical antibiotic at each dressing change and reapplies a fresh layer.
Comforting (Pain Relief) a Burn Wound
For pain relief, medical professionals will most likely administer over-the-counter painkillers. In patients with minor burn injuries, acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) alone or combined with opioids are usually suitable. It is best to avoid aspirin products due to their risk of platelet inhibition and bleeding.
Patients suffering from severe burns may require rescue medication or stronger narcotics like morphine.
Schedule a Free Consultation with Ehline Law
If you’ve suffered burn injuries due to another’s negligence or intentional act, contact us at (833) LETS-SUE for a free consultation. You may be able to seek compensation with help from a trained and expert advocate at our law offices.