Burns Expert Forum
Burn
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This forum is for questions and support regarding burn issues such as: Hand burns, Pediatric Burns, Thermal burns, Electrical burns, Chemical burns, Radiation burns, Rehab/Recovery, Pain control, Psychological / Social Recovery, Scar Management, Smoke inhalation, Disaster Management, Skin and Soft Tissue Infections.

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Burn


my grandfather was just in a serious accident regarding a propane tank exploding and it blew him out of the building. as it did it the blast broke his nose and burnt his face and hands and chest. his face and hands are the worst. the doctors have now said that he has only a 30% chance of survival. it all just happened a day ago. i know that it maybe too soon to tell what is going to happen. but i thought maybe someone could tell me if he could really survive this or not. They had put him into a coma for at least 3 days and then they said they would try to wake him. hes also 56 years old and is in normal physical condition but i have read that sometimes people that are put into a coma can not wake unless it is on their own. is there any chance that he will survive this? please tell me know
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  • Grandfather (1 replies):
    I wrote to u once before about my grandfather and the pr...[more]
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Some questions:
What is the percent body surface area burn?
Does he have an inhalation injury?
Does he have any internal injuries from the blast injury?

Major burns are the most serious injury that the body can experience.  The things that predict survival are the age of the patient, the size of the burns, and the presence of an inhalation injury.   If he has an inhalation injury to his lungs—that is a large predictor of someone’s likelihood to live or die than the age of the patient and size of the burn.  

Regarding the coma.  People fear pain more than they do death, and we are all aware of the pain with burns.  When I talk to families, I will not use the word “coma,” but tell family members that the patient is under an anesthesia.   With burns this size, your grand father will be in severe pain without the benefit of medications.  He is likely on medications for pain, sedation, and muscle relaxation.  These are the same elements as a general anesthesia, but acted over days and not hours.   It is not common for us to place a major burn under anesthesia in some cases for weeks.   After the first 48 hours, the doctors will start making decisions about surgery.  

Families asks me someone’s chances everyday.   Are they 50:50 or 20:80?   I tell people it really doesn’t matter.  All patients do one of two things, live or die.   No one lives 20% of the time and dies 80% of the time—these stats are useful when looking at populations of patients, and not so helpful in individual patients.   You want your grandfather to live, and at this point you want the doctors to do what they can.   Therefore, odds are not very helpful other than letting you know the injury is serious and there is a very real possibility he could die from these injuries.   Remember, one runs a marathon one mile at a time.   Right now just take it hour by hour or day by day.   Celebrate the wins as you get them.  When he has a good day, be happy about that, and then focus on the next challenge.  
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