Some burn centers only treat adults, while others only treat children, and many treat patients of all ages. Depending on its resources, a burn center may treat all burns or only severe, life-threatening ones. Typically, medical professionals refer patients to a burn center if the hospital does not have the personnel or equipment to care for burn patients or if the patient meets certain burn injury referral criteria.

Referral criteria typically includes:

3rd and 4th Degree Burns 

Any full thickness burn (third- or fourth-degree) warrants admission to a burn center. These are severe burns that increase risk of infection and other complications. 

2nd Degree Burns Affecting >10 Percent of TBSA 

Most second-degree burns do not require admission to a burn center. But if the burn affects more than 10 percent of the patient’s body, doctors may refer the patient to the burn center.

They use several tools to determine total body surface area (TBSA) affected, including the Rule of Nines and Lund-Browder method. Learn more about TBSA and these methods. 

Source of Burn 

Electrical burns and chemical burns bring greater risks for additional complications. Any burn caused by an electrical source or exposure to a chemical warrants admission to a burn center.

Inhalation Injury 

Smoke inhalation and burns to the airway is a risk especially in cases of thermal burns caused by flames. One of the first things that emergency personnel and hospital staff do is evaluate patients for inhalation injury.

Patients with Pre-existing or Additional Injuries

Doctors may refer burn patients with a pre-existing injury or condition that might create greater risk of complications (like infection). Existing mental or psychological conditions may also warrant admission, as might special needs patients.

They may also refer any burn patient who suffered injuries in addition to their burns. This might include broken bones or severe lacerations.

Talk to your doctors if you have further questions about burn centers or referral criteria. To connect with legal professionals in your area, call our lawyer referral specialists at 844-549-8774.