Early management in children with burns: cooling, wound care and pain management

M G A Baartmans, A E E de Jong, M E van Baar, G I J M Beerthuizen, N E E van Loey, D Tibboel, M K Nieuwenhuis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


INTRODUCTION: Early management in burns, i.e. prior to admission in a burn center, is essential for an optimal process and outcome of burn care. Several publications have reported suboptimal early management, including low levels of pain medication after trauma, especially in children. The aim of this study was to evaluate the current practice in the Netherlands and factors related to early management in pediatric burns, i.e. cooling, wound covering and pain management. To study possible change and improvement over time, two study periods were compared.

METHODS: This study involved two periods; January 2002-March 2004 (period 1) and January 2007-August 2008 (period 2). All children (0-15 years of age) with acute burns admitted within 24h after burn to one of the three Dutch Burn centers with a formal referral were eligible. Data were obtained from patient records, both retrospectively and prospectively.

RESULTS: A total of 323 and 299 children were included in periods 1 and 2, respectively. The vast majority of children in both study periods had been cooled before admission (>90%). Over time, wound covering increased significantly (from 64% to 89%) as well as pain treatment (from 68% to 79%). Predominantly paracetamol and morphine were used. Referral from ambulance services (OR=41.4, 95%CI=16.6-103.0) or general practitioners (OR=59.7, 95%CI=25.1-141.8) were strong independent predictors for not receiving pre-burn center pain medication. On the other hand, flame burns (OR=0.2, 95%CI=0.1-0.5) and more extensive burns (TBSA 5-10%: OR=0.4, 95%CI=-0.2 to 0.8; TBSA≥10%: OR=0.2, 95%CI=0.1-0.4) were independent predictors of receiving pain medication.

CONCLUSION: Referring physicians of children with burns were overall well informed: they cool the wound after burns and cover it before transport to prevent hypothermia and reduce the pain. Additional studies should be conducted to clarify the duration and temperature for cooling to be effective. Furthermore, there is room and a need for improvement regarding early pain management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)777-782
Number of pages6
JournalBurns : journal of the International Society for Burn Injuries
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • pain medication
  • children
  • burns
  • bandages
  • complications
  • therapeutic use
  • statistics
  • cryotherapy
  • early medical intervention
  • emergency medical services
  • Morphine/therapeutic use
  • Netherlands
  • Pain/drug therapy
  • Pain Management/statistics & numerical data
  • Retrospective Studies


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