University of South Alabama

The University of South Alabama Regional Burn Center provides specialized care to burn patients in south Alabama, northwest Florida, southern Mississippi and eastern Louisiana.  Located at USA Medical Center, it is the only facility in the region providing burn care from injury to recovery.

Experience

The USA Regional Burn Center admits over 500 adult patients per year, making it one of the busiest burn centers in the country.  The USA Burn Center has 18 beds, including six for intensive care patients.  

The USA Burn Team is nationally and internationally recognized for their research, particularly in the development of artificial skin.  Team members contribute to hundreds of medical publications making significant contributions in virtually every aspect of burn care.  Nutrition, infection control, immunology, scarring, pain management and wound healing are some of these aspects.  Research is ongoing in all disciplines, including nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, nutrition and social services.

Staff/Services/Resources

The USA Burn Team includes physicians specializing in burn surgery, infectious disease, plastic surgery, trauma surgery, orthopedic surgery, psychiatry, and anesthesiology.  Support staff includes specialized burn nurses, social workers, dieticians, physical therapists, occupational therapists, respiratory therapists, and a chaplain.  The USA Burn Team physicians and support staff provide complete physical and psychological care of the burn patient.  

Treatment

The quality of life achieved by a burn patient depends on the type of care given while in the hospital.  Burns that are more severe and extensive require specialized treatment at a burn center such as USA Regional Burn Center.  Burn centers have a multi-disciplinary group of medical specialists specifically trained in the treatment and rehabilitation of severely burned patients.

The consolidation of these disciplines improves and enhances that care and extends it to outpatients.  The close proximity of related services makes care convenient and efficient for providers, resulting in better care for patients.

What are Burns

Burns are a type of traumatic injury that damages and sometimes destroys the skin and underlying tissues.  Healthy skin is part of our natural protective system and creates a barrier from certain infections.  Burn patients are at a greater risk for infections due to the loss of the skin. 

Types of Burns

Several types of agents can cause burns: thermal, radiation, chemical or electrical contact.

  • Thermal burns - external heat sources (hot metals, scalding liquids, steam, and flames) raise the temperature of the skin and tissues, and cause cell death or charring.
  • Radiation burns - prolonged exposure to the sun or to other sources of radiation such as X-rays.
  • Chemical burns - strong acids, alkalis, detergents or solvents coming into contact with the skin and/or eyes.
  • Electrical burns - electrical current, either alternating current (AC) or direct current (DC).
  • Lightning strikes are also considered burn injuries.

Burn Injuries

Burn injuries are divided into three categories:
1st degree - Affects the outermost layer of the skin called the epidermis.
2nd degree - Affects the epidermis and the dermis.
3rd degree - Affects the full depth of the skin.  Patients who sustain 3rd degree burns usually require skin grafts.
Open flames are the leading cause of burn injury for adults and scalding is the leading cause of burn injury for children.  Both infants and the elderly are at the greatest risk for burn injury.

Admissions and Referrals

According to the American Burn Association and the American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma, the following are criteria for injuries requiring referral to a burn center:

  1. Partial-thickness burns of greater than 10 percent of the total body surface area.
  2. Burns that involve the face, hands, feet, genitalia, perineum or major joints.
  3. Third-degree burns in any age group.
  4. Electrical burns, including lightning injury.
  5. Chemical burns
  6. Inhalation injury
  7. Burn injury in patients with pre-existing medical disorders that could complicate management, prolong recovery or affect mortality.
  8. Any patients with burns and concomitant trauma (such as fractures) in which the burn injury poses the greatest risk of morbidity or mortality.  In such cases, if the trauma poses the greater immediate risk, the patient’s condition may be stabilized initially in a trauma center before transfer to a burn center.  Physician judgment will be necessary in such situations and should be in concert with the regional medical control plan and triage protocols.
  9. Burned children in hospitals without qualified personnel or equipment for the care of children.
  10. Burn injury in patients who will require special social, emotional or rehabilitative intervention.

For referrals, please call the USA Physicians Referral Line at 1-800-388-8721 or USA Medical Center at 251-471-7000.
                 
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