Resuscitation burn card--a useful tool for burn injury assessment

Burns. 2007 Mar;33(2):195-9. doi: 10.1016/j.burns.2006.07.019. Epub 2007 Jan 12.


It is well recognised that the initial assessment of body surface area affected by a burn is often over estimated in Accident and Emergency Departments. A useful aide-memoir in the acute setting is Wallace's "rule of nines" or using the patients' palmar surface of the hand, which approximates 1% of the total body surface area, as a method of assessment. Unfortunately, as with every system, limitations apply. Factors such as patient size and the interpretation of what is exactly the 'palmar surface' may significantly influence burn size estimations and subsequently fluid resuscitation. Our aim is to develop a simple, quick and easy reproducible method of calculating burn injuries for medical professionals in the acute setting. Worldwide, the dimensions of a credit card are standardized (8.5 cm x 5.3 cm), thus producing a surface area of 45 cm2. We created a resuscitation burn card (RBC) using these exact same proportions, upon which a modified body surface area (BSA) nomogram was printed. Knowing the patient height and weight, we calculated the surface area of the card as percentage of total body surface area (TBSA). On the opposite site of the RBC, a Lund and Browder chart was printed, as well as the Parkland formula and a formula to calculate paediatric burn fluid requirements. The plastic, flexible RBC conformed well to the body contour and was designed for single use. We used the resuscitation burn card in the initial assessment of simulated burns in a Regional Burn Centre and in an Accident and Emergency Department. The information present on the card was found to be clear and straightforward to use. The evaluation of burn extent was found to be more accurately measured than the estimation obtained without the RBC. The resuscitation burn card can be a valuable tool in the hands of less experienced medical professionals for the early assessment and fluid resuscitation of a burn.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Burn Units
  • Burns / pathology*
  • Burns / therapy
  • Child
  • Clinical Competence / standards
  • Equipment Design
  • Fluid Therapy / instrumentation
  • Humans
  • Manikins
  • Medical Records / standards*
  • Medical Staff, Hospital / standards
  • Nomograms
  • Observer Variation
  • Pilot Projects
  • Resuscitation / instrumentation*