This article was originally published here
Burns. 2021 Jul 19:S0305-4179(21)00175-3. doi: 10.1016/j.burns.2021.07.005. Online ahead of print.
OBJECTIVE: Incarcerated patients are a vulnerable population and little is known regarding the epidemiology of burn injury and subsequent outcomes. This study utilizes a national database to assess disparities in care affecting this understudied population.
METHODS: The National Burn Repository was queried for adult patients discharged into custody. Patients discharged to jail were compared to those with other dispositions. Additional analysis of the incarcerated patients compared those injured while in custody to those injured prior to incarceration.
RESULTS: Between 2002-2011, 809 patients were discharged to jail with 283 (35.0%) sustaining these injuries while in custody. Patients were predominantly male (86.2%) and White (52.3%), with median age 35.7 years (IQR 27.7-45.9). Incarcerated patients had significantly higher rates of drug abuse and psychiatric illness. They had significantly smaller burns (2.0% vs. 3.8%, p < 0.001) and were less likely to undergo an operation but had comparable lengths of stay in the hospital.
CONCLUSIONS: Although incarcerated burn-injured patients sustain smaller injuries and receive fewer operations they remain hospitalized for similar durations as non-incarcerated patients. Enhanced understanding of burn etiologies and injury characteristics as well as improved insight into the impact of psychosocial factors such as substance abuse and prevalence of psychiatric disorders may help improve care.