Lack of a standardised UK care pathway resulting in national variations in management and outcomes of paediatric small area scalds

Alexander E.J. Trevatt, Emily N. Kirkham, Bradley Allix, Rosemary Greenwood, Karen Coy, Linda I. Hollén, Amber E.R. Young*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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IntroductionThere is a paucity of evidence guiding management of small area partial thickness paediatric scalds. This has prevented the development of national management guidelines for these injuries. This research aimed to investigate whether a lack of evidence for national guidelines has resulted in variations in both management and outcomes of paediatric small area scalds across England and Wales (E&W).
MethodsA national survey of initial management of paediatric scalds ≤5% Total Body Surface Area (%TBSA) was sent to 14 burns services in E&W. Skin graft rates of anonymised burns services over seven years were collected from the international Burns Injury Database (iBID). Average skin grafting rates across services were compared. Length of stay and proportion of patients receiving general anaesthesia for dressing application at each service were also compared.
ResultsAll 14 burns services responded to the survey. Only 50% of services had a protocol in place for the management of small area burns. All protocols varied in how partial thickness paediatrics scalds ≤5% TBSA should be managed. There was no consensus as to which scalds should be treated using biosynthetic dressings.

Data from iBID for 11,917 patients showed that the average reported skin grafting rate across all burns services was 2.3% (95% CI 2.1, 2.6) but varied from 0.3% to 7.1% (P < 0.001). Service provider remained associated with likelihood of skin grafting when variations in the %TBSA case mix seen by each service were controlled for (χ2 = 87.3, P < 0.001). The use of general anaesthetics across services varied between 0.6 and 35.5% (P < 0.001). The median length of stay across services varied from 1 to 3 days (P < 0.001).

DiscussionA lack of evidence guiding management of small-area paediatric scalds has resulted in variation in management of these injuries across E&W. There is also significant variation in outcomes for these injuries. Further research is indicated to determine if care pathways and outcomes are linked. An evidence-based national policy for the management of small area paediatric scalds would ensure that high quality, standardised care is delivered throughout E&W and variations in outcome are reduced.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1241-1256
Number of pages16
Issue number6
Early online date4 May 2016
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2016


  • Biosynthetic dressing
  • Burn
  • Outcomes
  • Paediatric
  • Scald
  • Skin graft

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