Characterizing End-of-Life Care after Geriatric Burns at a Verified Level i Burn Center

Natalia S. Partain, Madhu Subramanian, Erica I. Hodgman, Claire L. Isbell, Steve E. Wolf, Brett D. Arnoldo, Karen J. Kowalske, Herb A. Phelan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Background: End-of-life (EoL) care after geriatric burns (geri-burns) is understudied. Objective: To examine the practices of burn surgeons for initiating EoL discussions and the impact of decisions made on the courses of geri-burn patients who died after injury. Methods: This retrospective cohort study examined all subjects ≥65 years who died on our Level I burn service from April 1, 2009, to December 31, 2014. Measurements obtained were timing of first EoL discussion (EARLY <24 hours post-admission; LATE ≥24 hours post-admission), decisions made, age, total body surface area burned, and calculated probability of death at admission. Results: The cohort consisted of 57 subjects, of whom 54 had at least one documented EoL care discussion between a burn physician and the patient/surrogate. No differences were seen between groups for the likelihood of an immediate decision for comfort care after the first discussion (p = 0.73) or the mean number of total discussions (p = 0.07). EARLY group subjects (n = 38) had significantly greater magnitudes of injury (p = 0.002), calculated probabilities of death at admission (p ≤ 0.001), shorter times to death (p ≤ 0.001), and fewer trips to the operating theater for burn excision and skin grafting (p ≤ 0.001) than LATE subjects (n = 16). LATE subjects' first discussion occurred at a mean of 9.3 ± 10.0 days. Discussion: The vast majority of geri-burn deaths on our burn service occur after a discussion about EoL care. The timing of these discussions is driven by magnitude of injury, and it does not lead to higher proportions of an immediate decision for comfort care. The presence and timing of EoL discussions bears further study as a quality metric for geri-burn EoL care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1275-1280
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of palliative medicine
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016


  • ICU/critical care issues in palliative care
  • geriatric palliative care end of life issues
  • surgery-specific areas of palliative care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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