The True Cost of Burn Injuries

It is difficult to define the true cost of treating someone with a severe burn injury, however there has always been a consensus that the costs associated with burns care are significantly high. The financial cost of treatment means that the entire family feels the pain.  This is one reason to consult with a top burn injury lawyer.

Burns are among the most expensive injuries to treat out of all serious injuries due to the length of stay in hospital and rehabilitation required post hospital stay.   An extensive burn injury covering greater than 30 percent of total body surface area (TBSA) for example can require not only a long hospital stay but then extended care in a burn unit at a major medical facility.  Physical therapy for patients with burns has become a specialty as knowledge of burn injuries increases. Treatment at a specialised burn hospital can involve skin grafts, occupational therapy and treatment from psychologists.  Patients who have sustained burn injuries and other severe wounds often have to be treated by a unique multidisciplinary team of experts in their field.  This subsequently causes patient costs to escalate.

Approximately 1.1 million burn injuries require medical attention in the USA every year according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Of these, approximately 50,000 burn injuries require hospitalization and approximately 20,000 are major burns that involve at least 25 percent of the total body surface.

In November 2012 a retrospective study of burn patients conducted by the Severe Burn Injury Service at Sydney Medical School, University of Sydney in Australia took place.  Twenty adult burn patients were studied and an outline of their itemised costs (itmes, services and equipment) during their stay recorded.   A cost breakdown was also performed for analysis of the most significant areas of expenditure and their trends with TBSA affected. The cost calculated for an average adult burns patient was US$73,532. The total cost of all 20 patients was US$2,534,464. The percentage of total body surface area  injured was confirmed as the primary determinant of cost.  Hospital length of stay, operative costs, dressings and staffing were found to be the most significant components of cost and increased most prominently with the percentage of TBSA.

The Department of Intensive Care at Launceston General Hospital in Australia conducted a comparison between intensive care patient costs in 2010.  They found whilst there were not significant differences, physiotherapy and dressing costs were higher in burn patients, and there was a trend to increase costs associated with analgesic/anxiolytic/sedative medications.

Some additional costs that burn patients may incur, depending on the severity of the burns, are as follows:

  • General /Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery
  • Anaesthesiology & Critical Care
  • Wound Care and wound dressings
  • Pain/sedative and infection medications
  • Prosthetic and artificial limbs
  • Nursing (hospital and in-home)
  • Physical Therapy
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Speech Therapy
  • Social Services
  • Psychological Services

Some of the above treatments and areas of care can be ongoing for many years after the initial burn injury occurred, escalating costs for burn patients and their families.  For a free consultation with an experienced burn injury lawyer, call us at 866-293-2615.