The epidemiology of burn injuries in an Australian setting, 2000-2006

Burns. 2009 Dec;35(8):1124-32. doi: 10.1016/j.burns.2009.04.016. Epub 2009 May 30.


Objectives: To describe presentation characteristics of burn leading to death or hospital treatment (i.e. inpatient admissions and emergency department [ED] presentations) across the state of Victoria, Australia, for the years 2000-2006 inclusive.

Methods: Data were provided by the Victorian Injury Surveillance Unit (VISU) from three different datasets pertaining to burn deaths, hospital inpatient admissions and non-admitted ED presentations. Population estimates were derived from census data provided by Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Results: During the 7-year period, 178 people died and 36,430 were treated for non-fatal burn injury, comprising 7543 hospital admissions and 28,887 non-admitted ED presentations. Males, children aged less than 5 years of age, and the elderly (> or =65 years of age) were at the highest risk of injury. Contact with heat and hot substances represented the major aetiological factor contributing to thermal injuries accounting for 64% of all hospital admissions and 90% of ED presentations. Temporal trends indicate no change in the population rate of burn deaths or hospital admissions during the study period.

Conclusions: ED presentations and hospital admissions and deaths have remained the same over this study period, but rates of burn remain high in males, children and the elderly. This could be due to variations in the implementation of government prevention and control programs and the divergence in efficient treatments and clinical practices amongst hospital care providers. Therefore, educational efforts for prevention should be the keystone to minimise the incidence of burns.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Body Surface Area
  • Burns / epidemiology*
  • Burns / etiology
  • Burns / pathology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data
  • Hospitalization / trends
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Length of Stay / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mortality / trends
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Victoria / epidemiology
  • Young Adult