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Lawyer Blog: Baltimore, MD

The Costs of Treating Burns

Maryland Burn Injury Attorney

The pain and suffering from a burn injury is terrible—no question. The financial costs, however, can also cause you and your family pain. Part of the reason is that serious burn injuries require a lot of care, often in a hospital, and these days the care does not come cheap.

Recent numbers that lay out the costs of burn injuries can be difficult to find. The lack of studies at a time when we need information about healthcare costs more than ever is a bit baffling. What we do know is that the annual costs of burn injuries in 2010 dollars are approximately $10.4 billion, with burn hospitalizations representing around 1 percent of all U.S. injuries. Complications of injuries can rapidly escalate costs; a severe burn with many complications can cost more than $10 million to treat effectively.

Hospital stays for burns average 8.1 days, compared to 4.5 days for non-burn hospital stays. On average, hospital stays for burns are often twice the length and more than twice the cost of non-burn-related hospital stays. Something that illustrates how long a hospital stay can be for a burn patient is related to the percentage of the body that was burned. The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) determined in a study that, when the average burned area of a person was 7 percent, each 1 percent translated into about two days of hospital care. How much of your body equals 7 percent? Doctors generally calculate that one arm or one lower leg is about 9 percent of your body surface.

What Makes Burn Injuries So Costly?

Two big aspects of care can rapidly increase the costs of serious burns:

Medical complications. Even a moderate burn, if there are complications, on average can cost $207,000 for a hospital stay. Severe burns with no complications can cost an average of $1.6 million. The complications that can delay burn healing and their percentages of likelihood include:

  • In 66 percent of cases, scarring, disfigurement, and contracture (a tightening of the skin that can limit future mobility) can add up to $35,000 in costs.
  • In 57 percent of cases, psychological issues can add up to $75,000 in costs.
  • In 55 percent of cases, skin breakdown or fragile skin can add as much as $107,000 in costs.
  • In 35 percent of cases, various infections (sepsis, pneumonia, and even organ failure) can add up to $120,000 in costs.
  • In 32 percent of cases, the failure of skin grafts or slowly-healing wounds can add up to $110,000 in costs.

If the burn involved inhalation injuries, eye injuries, or other medical situations, costs will necessarily increase.

The need for specialists and specialized treatment. Caring for serious and severe burns takes a lot of medical professionals, such as:

  • Anesthesiologists and pain-control specialists
  • Surgeons (general, plastic, and reconstructive)
  • Wound-care specialists
  • Physical therapists
  • Occupational therapists
  • Speech therapists
  • Social workers
  • Psychologists/psychological caregivers.

Additional costs usually involve antibiotics and pain relief medications. Dressing costs can also be substantial, as dressings normally need to be changed at least every day. Pressure garments which control the buildup of scar tissue can also be required. Blood transfusions are often needed in serious cases.

After the hospital stay, often there are costs for home health care, assistive devices such as walkers and wheelchairs, and prosthetics and orthotics. Modifying the home or the family vehicle may also be necessary.

What Non-Medical Costs Are Associated with Burns?

Any lost income associated with a burn injury can add up to a lot of money, because it includes wages, benefits, bonuses, and commissions. If you are disabled for a long period of time or permanently disabled, lost income can run into the six and seven figures, depending on your age and your disability circumstances.

The horrible pain endured by a burn injury victim is often echoed by the emotional and financial pain that the family endures. The costs of burn injuries are always more than monetary.

Contact a committed burn injury lawyer.

When you have suffered a serious burn, either in the workplace or from a personal injury situation, you may be entitled to damages. Burns can leave you in pain and with long-term consequences, such as scarring, physical dysfunction, and the inability to work. The clock begins ticking the moment you are hurt, and the amount of time you have to file a claim is limited, so you should not delay.

Don’t take a chance with your family’s financial security. If you’ve experienced injury due to a serious burn, contact a Baltimore burn injury attorney at the Law Offices of Steven H. Heisler today. Committed to representing personal injury victims, Steve has what it takes to get compensation for your burn injury. Call 1-410-625-4878 for a free consultation, or use our online contact form.