Thursday, 21 August 2003
This presentation is part of : Interface of Medicine and Psychiatry

S096-006 Risk Assessment in the Elderly Admitted to the Burns Unit

C A Lynch, Mercerís Institute for Research on Ageing, Dublin, Ireland, Cathal Walsh, Statistics, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland, M O Donnell, Dept of Plastic Surgery, St James's Hospital, Dublin, Ireland, and AM O Dwyer, Dept of Psychological Medicine, St James's Hospital, Dublin, Ireland.

Objective:: A number of populations are known to be at risk of sustaining burns, including persons with mental illness and the elderly. This study aims to examine risk assessment in the burns unit, with particular reference to vulnerable groups.

Design: Retrospective chart review

Materials and Methods: Case notes of all admissions to the National Burns Unit (Ireland) over a one year period were reviewed. Standardised clinical and sociodemographic information was gathered and the resulting data entered onto a database and analysed.

Results: In one year there were 158 total admissions, of which 139 case notes were available. 15.9% of all admissions were aged 65 years or over. The elderly had a significantly higher rate of medical complications and mortality than younger patients. Elderly patients were less likely to be referred to psychiatry than younger patients although casenotes did not indicate a lower prevalence of mental illness. Recognised risk factors such as history of psychiatric illness, alcohol, substance misuse were often not documented. The pattern of cases referred to Liaison Psychiatry differed to that in younger patients.

Conclusion: Given higher complication and mortality rates in the elderly admitted to hospital for treatment of burns, risk assessment is of particular importance. Recognised risk factors (psychiatric illness and substance misuse) often are not assessed systematically. These results have implications for the treatment and care of elderly patients in the Burns Unit, highlighting risk factors which may be amenable to modification.

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