Children's National Burn Team Helps the Region's Kids

Monday, May 15, 2017

As the regional burn center for Washington, DC, Northern Virginia and Southern Maryland, Children’s National Health System sees at least 35 kids per week on average in its burn clinic, held on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

All told in 2016, our Trauma and Burn Department's three trauma and burn nurse practitioners, working closely with General Surgery and their three nurse practitioners, cared for 792 burned children during 1,879 visits to Children’s National. In addition to running the burn clinic, they manage inpatient burns and see burn consults in the Emergency Department.

Lead Burn Team Nurse Practitioner Elizabeth (Liz) Dey, MSN, CPNP, who has worked here since 2002, says most of the children they treat are toddlers, age 2 and younger. Most of their burns are from scalds – hot coffee, hot tea, hot liquid or foods – with the second most common being contact burns with hot objects such as a stove, iron or fireplace. They also see flame, chemical, and electrical burns on children.

“The biggest concern for the families is whether the child is going to scar – that’s the first question their parents or caregivers ask,” Dey says.

The acuity of the patients Dey and her colleagues have seen in the outpatient clinic has increased in the past seven years. They’re seeing much bigger burns, and have been able to handle more patients on an outpatient basis, some of whom they are following up with to assess for scarring.

Feeling the Sun's Heat

Observing these trends, Dey had a realization last summer. When her team educates patients and families on how to protect already burned skin from further damage, they emphasize that minimizing exposure to the sun is key. But when they recommend that patients wear sunscreen, sun shirts and hats, many – especially a high number of patients from disadvantaged communities – have never used such sun protection before.  Their caregivers ask: How do we get these items? Which ones should we use? How can we afford them?

To help these families – as well as other kids who receive treatment at Children’s National, the Burn Team is taking their effort to the next level. They’re building on their work with Safe Kids, an organization that covers sun safety as part of summer and sports safety outreach/education in the community, to provide more resources to burn patients and families.

Among the resources they are providing: a burn information pamphlet, and an updated healthy sun protection flyer listing safe sunscreens, protective types of clothing, and suggested places where families can buy them. This year, they’re also selling Children’s National sun protection shirts  – and giving buyers the option to purchase a second shirt at a discounted price to be donated to a burn victim. (shirts pictured above).

“The sun can really affect if and how a patient scars – it can affect the flexibility of the skin, the pigment of the skin,” Dey says. “If we can provide sun protection resources before they leave the hospital, it will make sure the burns are protected.”

Do you have questions about the Burn Team’s work? Email them at npsurgery@childrensnational.org

Burn Team by the Numbers

In 2016: 
  • 792 burn injured children with 1,879 visits were treated at Children’s National.
  • 85 admitted to the hospital on the Burn Service.
  • 440 seen and discharged from the ED.
  • 1350 outpatient burn clinic visits.
  • The trauma/burn nurse practitioners see about 100 burn patients in burn clinic per month. 
  • 65% of burn patients are 0-4 years old.
  • 20% age 5-9 years old.
  • 62% scald burns (hot coffee, tea, water).
  • 27% contact burns (stove, fireplace, iron).


Categories: Toddlers
Topics: Burns

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