The High Price of Burn Injuries

Burns are some of the most severe and painful injuries a person can endure. Thousands of people suffer from moderate to severe burns each year in the United States, both at work and at home. 

According to the American Burn Association, in 2016 there were 486,000 burn injuries necessitating medical treatment, and more than 3,200 deaths from fire and smoke inhalation. Someone dies from a fire or smoke inhalation every two hours and 41 minutes.

The road to recover for those with burn injuries can be long and arduous. Putting the physical and psychological pain aside, the financial burden is immense. Paradigm Outcomes, a case management company, estimates that, in complicated cases, severe burns can cost up to $10 million to treat successfully.

Why are burn injuries so expensive to treat?

Moderate to severe burns can damage many systems in the body, creating multiple medical problems. This is what makes them so expensive to treat. Some of the injuries that result from burns include:

  • Skin damage
  • Nerve damage
  • Muscle, ligament, and tendon damage
  • Contracture (shortening or stiffening of connective tissue)
  • Bone damage
  • Internal organ damage, like the lungs
  • Eye/vision damage
  • Further, these catastrophic injuries also require an army of medical professionals treating the victim:

  • Surgeons (general and reconstructive)
  • Wound care specialists
  • Pain management specialists
  • Therapists (physical, occupational, psychological)
  • Social workers to help the patient adjust
  • Other expenses can include daily medications like painkillers and antibiotics, blood transfusions, wound dressings, and pressure bandages. Additionally, if a patient needs to stay in a burn treatment center, that adds even more expenses.

    Complications add expenses

    When a patient is dealing with serious burns and complications arise, expenses can shoot up even more. And unfortunately, complications happen more often than not. Paradigm discusses some common complications and their general costs, abridged here:

  • Scarring or disfigurement, which can add around $35,000 in medical costs. About two-thirds of patients with burns experience these complications.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • And, of course, the costs will continue to pile up. A burn victim may be disabled for a long period or perhaps permanently. In cases like these, they will lose wages, benefits, and commissions. This is a significant amount of money, depending on the person’s age and circumstances, which is a devastating blow to a family.

    A burn injury can happen to anyone. When it’s a severe injury, the costs can be unmanageable. If your or your loved one’s injury is due to someone else’s negligence, you should not have to carry this financial burden. The Phoenix burn injury attorneys at Plattner Verderame, P.C. can help you fight for the compensation you’re owed for your losses. Get in touch with our office today by calling us or visiting our website.

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    Frank Verderame

    Licensed since 1982

    Member at firm Plattner Verderame, P.C.

    AWARDS

    AV Preeminent

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