In-hospital outcomes of paediatric burn injuries managed in children's hospitals compared to general hospitals

Cheng Hean Lo, Lincoln M. Tracy, Caroline Lam, Roy Kimble, Richard B. Wong She

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Introduction: In Australia and New Zealand, children with burn injuries are cared for in either general hospitals which cater to both adult and paediatric burn injuries or in children's hospitals. Few publications have attempted to analyse modern burn care and outcomes as a function of treating facilities. Aim: The aim of this study was to compare in-hospital outcomes of paediatric burn injuries managed in children's hospitals to those treated in general hospitals that regularly treated both adult and paediatric burn patients. Methods: A retrospective cohort study of cases was undertaken using data from the Burns Registry of Australia and New Zealand (BRANZ). All paediatric patients with data for an acute or transfer admission to a BRANZ hospital and registered with BRANZ with a date of admission between 1 July 2016 and 30 June 2020 were included in the study. The primary outcome of interest was the acute admission length of stay. Secondary outcome measures of interest included admission to the intensive care unit and readmission to a specialist burn service within 28 days. The Alfred Hospital Ethics Committee granted ethical approval for this study (project 629/21). Results: A total of 4630 paediatric burn patients were included in the analysis. Approximately three quarters of this cohort (n = 3510, 75.8%) were admitted to a paediatric only hospital, while the remaining quarter (n = 1120, 24.2%) were admitted to a general hospital. A greater proportion of patients admitted to general hospitals underwent burn wound management procedures in the operating theatre (general hospitals 83.9%, children's hospitals 71.4%, p < 0.001). Patients admitted to children's hospitals had a longer median time to their first episode of grafting (children's hospitals 12.4 days, general hospitals 8.3 days, p < 0.001). The adjusted regression model for hospital LOS indicate that patients admitted to general hospitals had a 23% shorter hospital LOS, compared to patients admitted to children's hospitals. Neither the unadjusted or adjusted model for intensive care unit admission was significant. After accounting for relevant confounding factors, there was no association between service type and hospital readmission rates. Conclusions: Comparing children's hospitals and general hospitals, different models of care seem to exist. Burn services in children's hospitals adopted a more conservative approach and were more inclined to facilitate healing by secondary intention rather than surgical debridement and grafting. General hospitals are more “aggressive” in managing burn wounds in theatre early, and debriding and grafting the burn wounds whenever considered necessary.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1289-1297
Number of pages9
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023


  • Burns service
  • Children's hospital
  • General hospital
  • Length of stay
  • Paediatric burn

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