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Thursday 27th June 2019

UK burns unit on a par with world's best

16th March 2012

A British burns unit is now on a par with the best in the world.


The St Andrew’s Centre for Plastic Surgery and Burns in Chelmsford, Essex, has reported dramatic improvements in survival rates, particularly with children and young people.

In the 1980s they would have had a 50:50 chance of surviving a severe burn across half the body but now the survival rate is almost 100%.

The findings have been published in the Journal of Trauma and come from an audit of survival rates at the unit going back to the early 1980s.

As one of several regional centres across the UK, it treats about three out of four major burns patients requiring intensive care in London and south east England.

Clinical director Peter Dziewulski: “We have an aphorism here that removing dead tissue saves lives. And by being aggressive, removing dead, burnt tissue, and looking after patients with intensive care techniques we've found that this has been one of the key elements in keeping people alive.”

As burnt tissue is very susceptible to infection, the approach at the unit is to take it out within 24 hours, while providing intensive care inside the operating theatre to minimise the risks.

Remo Papini from the British Burn Association, who is a consultant plastic surgeon in Birmingham, says there has been a lot of progress in recent years and that it was encouraging that units in Britain can now produce similar results those in the United States which have much better resources.


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