It is difficult to define the true cost of a burns injury, however there has always been a consensus that the costs associated with burns care are high. This study aims to achieve an accurate calculation of the cost of acute burns care in an Australian context. A retrospective review of 20 adult burn patients treated at our Centre was performed. An itemized price list was prepared based on items, services and equipment actually utilized in the care of burns patients. Case records were reviewed for a count of quantities to calculate costs for each item. Regression analysis was performed to produce a cost vs %TBSA curve for cost prediction. A cost breakdown was also performed for analysis of the most significant areas of expenditure and their trends with %TBSA. The cost calculated for an average adult burns patient was AU$71,056 (US$73,532). The total cost of all 20 patients was AU$2,449,112 (US$2,534,464). %TBSA injured was confirmed as the primary determinant of cost. Hospital length of stay, operative costs, dressings and staffing were found to be the most significant components of cost and increased most prominently with %TBSA. Compared to our findings, expenditure for prevention and education programs is minimal. There is limited conclusive evidence that changes in management protocols have had successful impact on the cost of burns treatment. Future progress in burns management may effect factors such as hospital length of stay, however until such changes, resource allocation should recognize the importance of prevention and its success at reduction of injury severity for real reductions in cost of burns care.
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