Providing 20 to 25 minutes of water cooling as standard first aid can significantly reduce the likelihood of wound repair surgery and admission to intensive care of burn patients, according to a landmark study involving The University of Notre Dame Australia’s Burn Injury Research Node.
The results of the study showed that water cooling in the first three hours after acute burn injury should be a required standard by pre-hospital and hospital health care providers, and a key education point in community burn injury minimisation campaigns.
Associate Professor Dale Edgar, Head of Notre Dame’s Burn Injury Research Node in the School of Physiotherapy, said adopting appropriate water cooling treatment to burn patients would deliver a 13% reduced need for surgery and a 48% reduction in risk of admission to intensive care.
“In addition, this research, arising from registry data from 15 collaborating burn units in Australia and New Zealand, showed that good first aid potentially saved 2.3 days of expensive hospital care. It makes sense that we use these powerful outcomes to improve the frequency of water cooling first aid immediately after burn injury,” Associate Professor Edgar said.
The research, published in the PLOS ONE journal, was based on data provided by the Burn Registry of Australia and New Zealand. Researchers contributing to this study included: Professor Fiona Wood (Fiona Wood Foundation), Associate Professor Edgar, Michael Phillips (Perkins Institute of Medical Research, UWA), Dr Tom Jovic (University of Edinburgh, Scotland), Dr John T Cassidy (University College Dublin, Ireland) and Professor Peter Cameron (Monash University, Melbourne).
The aim of the study was to quantify the benefits of water cooling first aid after burn in a large human cohort. Whilst the current recommendation for optimum first aid after burn is water cooling for 20 minutes within three hours, overall compliance with this guideline was not consistent.
It was also found that in some cases, cooling for 40 minutes or more of burn patients resulted in hypothermia and other possible complications associated with the condition.
“It is important to recognise that while we in the burn care community observe the benefits of first aid in practice, the application of adequate water cooling first aid at the point of injury – where it is most effective is at best given to approximately 60% of injured patients,” Associate Professor Edgar said.
“In fact, it may be considered that for the first time we actually can push for a standard that can be applied for burn first aid, rather than just simply a guideline.”
To read the full study, click here.
(Source: The University of Notre Dame, PLOS ONE)