This study provides a seven-year retrospective review of burns management in one burns unit in Portugal. Particular focus is given to the cause (including whether or not the burn was work related or domestic), anatomical location and depth of burn, and gender, age of patient, hospitalisation time and use of mechanical ventilation were all reported. These factors were compared in relation to season of the year, i.e. spring, summer, autumn and winter. The majority of burns were domestic, regardless of season and these tended to be fire and scald related. Fire was the main cause overall, with flash burns occurring more commonly in spring and autumn. Depth of burn was found to be statistically significantly different between seasons with a higher proportion of deeper burns occurring in winter. In addition, patients tended to be older in winter, and the paper suggested this was due to increased vulnerability with gas heaters and hot water bags. This led to a longer hospital stay throughout winter as well, attributed to deeper burns, and therefore more frequent operations. Finally, total body surface area affected was higher in winter, again attributed to the same reasons. Mechanical ventilation requirements increased towards the winter season, and this was related to higher rates of indoor fires, however, work-related accidents involving fire, electric and flash burns were associated with a higher risk, and these were more common in the summer months. The paper highlighted a need for national strategies for workplaces to improve health and safety compliance, with legal ramifications for companies who did not follow regulations. Additionally, they suggested school programs to educate the public about dangerous youthful activities related to fires. Finally, the authors suggested a telephone reassurance program for the elderly as they were the most at risk population, particularly in the winter months. This paper gave a broad overview of burns aetiology, highlighting the significant public health problem in Portugal.

Seasonal impact in burn profiles in a dedicated burn unit.
Ribiero LM, Vieira LG, Sousa JM, Guerra AS.
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Katie R Hilder

St John’s Hospital, Livingston.

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