Patients with burns versus patients with complex skin and soft-tissue disease: An analysis of outcomes in the United States

Steven Maximus, Michael Phelan, Victor C. Joe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


With the incidence of burns decreasing nationally, burn units are caring for more patients with nonburn conditions. The American Burn Association National Burn Repository does not currently report data regarding patients cared for in burn units without a diagnosis of burn. Using the National Inpatient Sample, we examined if there was a difference in characteristics and outcomes of patients admitted for burns compared with those with a primary admitting diagnosis of necrotizing skin infections and soft-tissue infections and exfoliative skin conditions. This is a retrospective study querying the National Inpatient Sample database to identify 56,102 patients from 2007 to 2012 who were admitted with a diagnosis of a burn (burn group). This group was then compared with 375,857 patients who had a primary admitting diagnosis of a necrotizing skin and/or soft-tissue infection or exfoliative skin conditions (nonburn group). Clinical and demographic variables were analyzed to determine characteristics of each patient group including length of stay, disposition, complications, comorbidities, and mortality. The average age of the nonburn group was 63.7 years, whereas the average age of the burn group was 40.1 years. Overall length of stay was higher in the nonburn patients than in burn patients (10.5 vs 8.4 days, P <.001). Nonburn patients had a higher rate of medical comorbidities. Nonburn patients had higher rates of mortality (6.9% vs 2.7%) and complications. After adjusting for confounders, such as age, gender, ethnicity, and comorbidities, the nonburn group was found to have higher rates of all recorded complications. Burn patients were more likely to undergo a major operating room procedure (39.3% vs 28.1%) and routine discharge (68.4% vs 26.3%) compared with the nonburn group. Patients with necrotizing skin and soft-tissue infections and exfoliative skin conditions are older, have more comorbidities, higher complication rates, and higher mortality rates than burn patients. Given these findings, burn units may need to adjust their resource utilization, competencies, and research priorities to improve the quality of care being delivered to these two different populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e125-e130
JournalJournal of Burn Care and Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Rehabilitation


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