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January 20, 1975

Epidemiology of BurnsThe Burn-Prone Patient

Author Affiliations

From the Bartlett Unit, Department of Surgery of the Harvard Medical School, and the Department of Surgery, Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, Boston. Dr. MacArthur is now at the Cardinal Cushing Hospital, Stoughton, Mass, as well as the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, Boston.

JAMA. 1975;231(3):259-263. doi:10.1001/jama.1975.03240150021015

Predisposition to burning was identified by history, by conversation with the family, or by physical examination. Factors that decreased the patient's ability to respond appropriately were considered as predisposing.

A consecutive series of 155 hospitalized, burned, adult patients was reviewed. Approximately 50% of the entire series showed predisposition to burning; among the more severe burns, this fraction was 57%. Among women, predisposition was more prominent in all categories than among men. Among women, those predisposed to burning had larger burns and a greater likelihood of dying.

Alcoholism led the list of predisposing factors, with senility, psychiatric disorders, and neurological disease following in order. The patient's own home was usually the site of the burn in those predisposed, with the initial ignition being in the patient's hair or clothing, the mattress, bedclothes, or an overstuffed chair. All of the burns occurring in hospital or mental institution patients were among those predisposed to burning.

(JAMA 231:259-263, 1975)