The High Cost of Burn Injuries

June 21, 2018 | Crandall & Pera Law
The High Cost of Burn Injuries

Burns can be some of the most serious and painful injuries a person can experience. Thousands of people suffer moderate to severe burns each year in the United States, with even more suffering minor burn injuries.

The American Burn Association reported 486,000 burn injuries necessitating medical treatment and more than 3,200 deaths from fire and smoke inhalation in 2016. And someone dies from a fire or by smoke inhalation every two hours and 41 minutes.

The path to recovery for those dealing with burn injuries can be long and painful. Even putting aside the physical and psychological pain, the financial burden can be catastrophic. Paradigm Outcomes, a case management company, estimates that—in complicated cases—severe burns can cost up to $10 million to treat successfully.

Why is it so expensive to treat burn injuries?

Minor burns typically heal on their own without any complications if treated correctly. However, moderate to severe burns can affect many systems and tissues in the body, creating multiple medical problems. Managing several problems at once is why burn injuries are so costly to treat. Some of the secondary or related injuries that can result from burns include:

  • Skin damage

  • Nerve damage

  • Muscle, ligament, and tendon damage

  • Bone damage

  • Eye/vision damage

  • Contracture (shortening or stiffening of connective tissue)

  • Internal organ damage, like the lungs

Additionally, catastrophic injuries require multiple medical professionals. For example:

  • Wound care specialists

  • Pain management specialists

  • Surgeons (general and reconstructive)

  • Therapists (physical, occupational, psychological)

  • Social workers to help the patient adjust

Other types of expenses might include antibiotics, painkillers, wound dressings, pressure bandages, or blood transfusions. If a patient needs an extended stay in the hospital or in a burn treatment center, that can also add tremendous expense.

Complications can add even more costs

When a patient is working to recover from serious burns and complications set in, medical expenses can skyrocket. Unfortunately, complications are common with burn injuries due to the secondary injuries. The Paradigm report also discusses some of the more common complications and their general costs. An abridged list follows:

  • Scarring or disfigurement, which can add around $35,000 in medical costs. About two-thirds of patients with burns experience these complications.

  • Infections happen to more than one-third of burn victims, and can add $120,000 in treatment costs. Some infections can even cause organ failure.

  • Slow-healing wounds or skin graft failure occurs with almost one-third of patients and can cost an additional $110,000 in medical bills.

  • Psychological complications can add up to $75,000 in costs, affecting about 57 percent of patients. This includes post-traumatic stress disorder after a burn injury.

  • Fragile skin, or skin breakdown, occurs in about 55 percent of cases, and can costs a patient over $100,000 in added medical costs.

Costs could continue to accumulate for the rest of the patient's life. A burn injury patient may be disabled for a long period, or even permanently. In these cases, they could lose wages, benefits, or commissions. Depending on the person's age and circumstances, this is a significant amount of money and is a devastating hit to a person or family.

Burn injuries can happen to anyone at any time. If the injury is severe, the costs can be crushing. If your injury was due to someone else's negligence, they should be held responsible. Let the injury lawyers at Crandall & Pera Law fight for your right to compensation. We proudly serve clients throughout Ohio and Kentucky. Please call us today at 877-686-8879. You can also fill out our contact form to schedule a free consultation.