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Assessing the severity of a burn injury

Assessing the severity of a burn injury

On Behalf of | Aug 17, 2022 | Personal Injury

Though vehicle fires from car crashes are uncommon, there are many ways that burn injuries can result from a collision. Burn injuries occur due to hot debris or contact with hazardous chemicals or a live electrical current.

Burn injuries can be severe and possibly life-threatening. The Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center describes some of the factors that go into determining the severity of a burn injury.

Victim’s age

The age of the victim makes a difference in the severity of the burn injury. People who are either very old or very young tend to be more vulnerable to them.

Size of the burn

The size of the burn refers to the amount of the total body surface area the injury involves, expressed as a percentage. The greater the TBSA involved, the more severe the burn injury is.

Degree of the burn

The degree of the burn refers to how deep the injury extends and how many layers of the skin it affects. A first-degree burn is a mild injury that only affects the outermost layer of skin, the scientific name for which is the epidermis. A second-degree burn is an injury of moderate severity, extending through the epidermis to affect the second layer of skin, also known as the dermis. A third-degree burn extends down through both layers of skin to damage the tissues underneath.

Because ordinal designations for burns are not very descriptive, some doctors use other terms to describe the degree of the injury. For example, they refer to a third-degree burn as a full-thickness injury because it affects both levels of the skin. A second-degree burn is a partial-thickness injury, while a first-degree burn is a superficial injury because it only affects the outer layer.


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