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November 23, 1984

Fatal Hospital-Acquired Burns

Author Affiliations

University of California, San Francisco San Francisco General Hospital

JAMA. 1984;252(20):2813. doi:10.1001/jama.1984.03350200013008

To the Editor.—  Recent epidemiologic studies have cited house fires as the major cause of burn-related deaths.1,2 Indeed, in large series, morbidity and mortality from flame burns often exceed those from other causes.3 Cigarettes have been identified repeatedly as an ignition source in up to 30% of these fires.1,4 Of particular concern is that nonsmokers have been the fatal victims in approximately 40% of these cases.5 Recent attempts at legislation to promote fire-safe cigarettes have depended largely on these statistics.To evaluate statewide experience with cigarette-related burn deaths, we recently examined the cumulative records of the California State Burn Registry. This facility is charged with accumulating and disseminating burn-related information from the 17 participating burn facilities throughout the state. In the registry's period of operation from 1977 to 1981, the number of cases of second- and/or third-degree burns recorded was 3,332, and they form the basis