Sunday, July 11, 2010

Lessons from the Burn Unit

Spending a second week in the Burn Unit provided me more insight on burn patient care, particularly the social aspects of treatment. I followed attending rounds with both Dr. Roger W. Yurt and Dr. James J. Gallagher.

Burn injuries are quite unique in that they can be traumatic and result in patient disfigurement even after the most high tech treatments available. This can have impacts on patient care ranging from simple patient irritability to difficulties in obtaining patient consent for complicated surgeries. Needless to say, patient psychological status (as determined by qualified individuals of course) was high on the list for consideration during rounds.

In addition to some new patient arrivals, there were also some departures. It is not uncommon however, for a patient who was injured during a fire, to not have a home to go back to once they have healed. This can make patient discharge a tricky task, requiring physicians in the burn unit to work closely with social workers to ensure that patients can enter a safe environment once they leave the hospital. For example, a patient could be treated for minor burn or smoke inhalation injuries after their house burnt down, and then not have a place to go after leaving the hospital.

Also noted during rounds was how each patient received their burn injury. Causes ranged from spilled hot water or oil, to electrical shock, and even exploding aerosol cans. Some patient's injuries even resulted from them being assaulted, which I found shocking at the least. It is hard to imagine what would motivate an individual to do such a thing. If there is one thing I can take away from my time in the Burn Unit these past two weeks, its don't get burned!

On a brighter note, next week I will commence work on my first project related data on patients from the Neonatal ICU. I sense some advanced statistical analysis in my future...

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