Critical care of the burn patient: the first 48 hours

Crit Care Med. 2009 Oct;37(10):2819-26. doi: 10.1097/CCM.0b013e3181b3a08f.


Objective: The goal of this concise review is to provide an overview of some of the most important resuscitation and monitoring issues and approaches that are unique to burn patients compared with the general intensive care unit population.

Study selection: Consensus conference findings, clinical trials, and expert medical opinion regarding care of the critically burned patient were gathered and reviewed. Studies focusing on burn shock, resuscitation goals, monitoring tools, and current recommendations for initial burn care were examined.

Conclusions: The critically burned patient differs from other critically ill patients in many ways, the most important being the necessity of a team approach to patient care. The burn patient is best cared for in a dedicated burn center where resuscitation and monitoring concentrate on the pathophysiology of burns, inhalation injury, and edema formation. Early operative intervention and wound closure, metabolic interventions, early enteral nutrition, and intensive glucose control have led to continued improvements in outcome. Prevention of complications such as hypothermia and compartment syndromes is part of burn critical care. The myriad areas where standards and guidelines are currently determined only by expert opinion will become driven by level 1 data only by continued research into the critical care of the burn patient.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Burn Units
  • Burns / complications
  • Burns / therapy*
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Critical Care / methods*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Fluid Therapy / methods
  • Humans
  • Interdisciplinary Communication
  • Monitoring, Physiologic
  • Patient Care Team
  • Prognosis
  • Resuscitation / methods