Complete care from the best in burn injury, rehabilitation and recovery.

Top Experts in the Region

Harborview Medical Center is the only Level 1 adult and pediatric trauma center and American Burn Association verified burn center in Washington state.

Coordinated Care

By integrating patient care teams across the critical, surgical and rehabilitative practices, we provide rapid personalized care that maximizes recovery.

Next Generation Treatment

Clinicians and researchers across the UW Medicine system continually innovate to advance burn care therapies. Our patients experience this groundbreaking work first.

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Patients with serious burns present critical challenges for burn care teams. As a specialized burn center, we deliver immediate acute care to ensure the highest probability for survival and recovery.

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Care for burn patients begins with airway clearance, supporting ventilation and treatment for smoke inhalation.
Intravenous fluids are provided to burn patients with dehydration, shock or burns that cover a large area of the body. These fluids help maintain blood pressure, prevent shock and minimize kidney and other organ damage.

Burn pain can be intense, long-lasting and difficult to control. Patients also experience pain when their wounds are cleansed and dressings are changed. Pain management requires careful assessment by a team of specialists to determine the best balance between medicated and non-medicated approaches.

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Emotional support is an important part of your treatment. Discussion groups and community resources can help you and your loved ones through treatment and recovery.

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The American Burn Association and the American College of Surgeons have distinguished the UW Medicine Regional Burn Center as the only verified burn center in Washington. This distinction recognizes our ability to provide the highest level of comprehensive care to people who suffer burns and smoke inhalation.

To transfer a burn patient to our Regional Burn Center at Harborview Medical Center, call 1.888.731.4791. A Transfer Center nurse will coordinate all aspects of the patient’s transfer. You can also call to consult with one of our burn physicians.

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Ensuring the highest level of care for our patients starts with evidence-based burn care. Our multi disciplinary team has developed standardized burn care pathway and stabilization protocols to guide physicians in assessing, treating and managing burn injuries.

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Many burns can be treated without the need for hospitalization. When patients come to the emergency department with a minor burn, our care team uses a fast-track system to expedite care and facilitate recovery. Our burn center handles over 2,000 outpatient visits a year.

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Burn rehabilitation is an essential element of burn treatment, and it begins the moment burn patients enter our burn center for care. Our rehabilitation specialists help mitigate the damaging effects a burn injury can have on patients’ physical, psychological and social well-being.

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Rehabilitation Medicine

Body parts affected by a burn injury need to be exercised to maintain their ability to reach a functional range of motion. Our physical and occupational therapists create customized plans to help burn patients resume independent living and daily activities.

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People with burn injuries experience emotional and psychological distress, especially when severe burns take a long time to heal or cause disfigurement. Our mental health experts provide psychiatric services to help patients during the entire recovery process.

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Burn patients can feel uncomfortable returning to their homes and social lives after a burn injury. Our team help patients adjust and feel confident in social settings by teaching them critical coping and social skills.
Burns are classified by degree depending on the extent of damage caused. The most severe burns can penetrate through all three layers of skin tissue. Depending on the severity of the burn, blistering, swelling and numbness may occur. Our team works with you and experts from across the care spectrum to ease any immediate pain and determine a custom recovery strategy.

These burns are caused by heat, such as fire, steam, boiling water and hot liquids or objects.

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Electrical burns can be the result of exposure to an electrical current, such as being struck by lightning, or contact with faulty electrical appliances or cords, household wiring or power lines. The severity of an electrical burn depends on current strength, type and length of exposure.

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These burns are caused by chemical substances, such as strong acids, drain cleaners, paint thinners and gasoline.

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Concentrated exposure to radiation over a short period of time can cause burns. Sunburn is the most common type of radiation burn. Exposure to X-rays and energy from high-powered radio transmitters can also cause radiation burns.
This type of exposure can cause damage to the respiratory tract. Serious breathing problems can develop if the smoke inhaled is unusually dense or contains poisonous chemicals or if exposure is prolonged.

Inform yourself to make the best choices for your health and care with UW Medicine patient education resources.

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Early removal of dead tissue covering of the wound is a critical step to prevent infection. We offer advanced surgical burn care techniques that greatly improve survival rates and recovery results.

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This procedure is used to cleanse and remove dead, contaminated and unhealthy tissue from a wound to help it heal.

This surgical procedure involves removing a patch of healthy skin from an uninjured area of the body to cover an open wound area. The donor site typically heals on its own over the next several days to weeks, under a dressing.

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A burn can cause the skin and underlying tissues to swell so much they act like a tourniquet, tightening around the blood vessels in the affected limbs and impeding blood flow. Escharotomy is a surgical procedure to promote circulation. It relieves the pressure caused by the non-elastic burn tissue.
Burns can damage one or more layers of skin and flesh. The severity of the wounds determines the level of care needed. Assessing and treating wounds properly increases the patient’s chances of effective healing and the prevention of infection and other complications.
To minimize the chance of infection, deep burns are treated with clean dressings and antibiotic skin cream or dressings containing bacteria-killing silver. Sometimes porous dressings may be used that allow fluid to drain yet prevent bacteria from coming into contact with the damaged skin. Before any antibiotic cream or dressing is applied, dead skin and blisters must be removed.

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Condition Spotlight

Burns

Overview

Burns are a type of painful wound caused by thermal, cold, electrical, chemical or electromagnetic energy. Persons with severe burns may experience loss of limb(s) or mobility, scarring and recurrent infections. Severe burns can affect every system of the body and cause emotional impacts.

Symptoms

Burns are classified based on how deep and severely they penetrate the skin's surface. First-degree (superficial) burns appear red, painful, dry and with no blisters. Second-degree burns appear blistered and third-degree burns destroy the first two skin layers and may also damage the underlying bones, muscles and tendons.

Risk factors and causes

Typical risk factors for burns include proximity to fire, hot liquid or steam; electrical currents; radiation from X-rays or radiation therapy to treat cancer; sunlight or ultraviolet light from a sunlamp or tanning bed; and exposure to strong acids, lye, paint thinner or gasoline.

Diagnosis

Your doctor will determine what percentage of your total body surface area is burned. For people 10 to 40 years old, the American Burn Association defines a severe burn as one that involves 25 percent total body surface area or any burn involving the eyes, ears, face, hands, feet or groin.

Treatment

Most minor burns heal in a few weeks using over-the-counter products or aloe. Serious burns may require months of hospital or outpatient treatment involving medications, wound dressings, therapy and surgery. Major burns require lengthy hospitalization, skin graft surgery and intensive rehabilitation.

Complications

Severe burns can cause complications requiring breathing assistance or tube feeding if face or neck burns cause your throat to swell shut. They may also require cutting scabs to relieve pressure when circulation is cut off, grafting skin to replace scar tissue or plastic surgery to improve scar appearance and increase flexibility.

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