Emergency burn care instructions

The Burn Treatment Center at the University of Iowa is the only burn center in Iowa that is verified by the American Burn Association. We are dedicated to the care of patients with burns, cold injuries, smoke inhalation, electrical injuries, necrotizing soft tissue infections, and large wounds. We have a large panoply of surgical subspecialties including surgical critical care, plastic surgery, orthopedic surgery, and hand surgery. We are integrated into the Level 1 Trauma Center at the University of Iowa.

We are expanding our telemedicine capabilities and strive to ensure ease of referral and consultation while protecting patient privacy. A faculty physician and burn nurse are always available for telephone consultation or transfer request. We now have the capability to view images of the patient while conducting the conference call.

We have an outpatient clinic operating daily Monday through Friday, and we can accommodate drop-in appointments for acute patients.

PDF iconEmergency burn care reference sheet [PDF]

For burn patient transfers and consultations

Burn center referral criteria

  • Partial thickness burns > 10% TBSA
  • Burns involving face, hands, feet, genitalia, perineum, or major joints
  • Third degree burns in any age group
  • Electrical burns, including lightning
  • Chemical burns
  • Inhalation burns
  • Burns in patients with significant pre-existing medical disorders
  • Burn patients with traumatic injuries
  • Burned children
  • Burns in patients requiring special social, emotional or rehabilitative intervention
  • Frostbite

Resuscitation protocol for children and adults

(Body weight in kg) x (% of body surface) / 4 = Lactated Ringers Starting Rate in mls/hr

  • Resuscitate second- and third-degree burns >15%
  • Establish two large bore IVs
  • Insert Foley catheter
  • Cover burns in plastic wrap
  • Keep patient warm

Estimating percent of burn — rule of nines

Estimating percent of burn rule of nines diagramA good estimate of burn coverage may be made based on the rule of nines.

  • Head = 9% (18% for infants)
  • Torso = 36% (18% for both the front and the back)
  • Arms = 9% each
  • Adult groin = 1%
  • Legs = 18% each (14% each for infants)

Palmar method for burn size calculation

Palmar method for burn size calculation diagramThe size of a patient's palm may be referenced to determine how much 1% body surface area covers.

Last reviewed: 
May 2017

Interested in using our health content?