Burns Among Children may be Common, but Negligence while Treating them Should Not.
Childhood injuries commonly occur around the house, at school, or during recreation. For instance, children under 18 years of age often break bones, suffer lacerations, get concussions, and bear bruises from several sources. They unfortunately choke, suffocate, and drown. Additionally, one of the leading causes of childhood injury and the fifth leading cause of death are burns, most of which occur in the home. Scalding and flames most often cause burns in younger children, while teenagers may suffer burn injuries from gas and electrical sources. Likewise, all children can burn their skin if left in the sun too long without proper protection.
Leading Causes of Childhood Burn Injuries
When it comes to burns for children, the causes can range from fire, scalding liquids, hot metal, and electrical shocks, to radiation, sunlight, and chemicals. In addition, some children suffer burns from abuse or explosions in cars or at home. Young children may pull hot liquid, such as hot tea or coffee, onto themselves while sitting in the lap of an adult. They also may stick forks or knives into open sockets or spill household chemicals on their skin. Kids four and under are often hospitalized for scald or contact burns, meaning touching a hot appliance or other heated metal or glass container, such as a frying pan off the stove. Children ages five to adolescence are more likely to be burned from playing with matches or running bath water to scalding temperatures. And older children burn themselves cooking, setting off fireworks, or climbing utility poles while playing around with friends. In addition, children of all ages may suffer burns from vehicle or house fires.
Degrees of Child Burns and Symptoms
Burns damage the skin and underlying tissues, the degree of which is measured by the breadth and depth of the burn. Some burns, however, are hard to measure because the surface is untouched by the injury, while underneath the skin is devastating damage. This measurement difficulty happens with electrical burns. First-degree burns affect the surface of the skin, while second-degree burns also affect the second layer, the dermis, and for third-degree burns, the underlying fatty tissue as well.
The resulting burns from these accidents cause suffering from various effects. Burn symptoms for topical burns from the sun or steam may occur as redness or dry skin. The skin may peel or be painful for a few days before tapering off. More severe burns affect a few of the skin’s layers, causing swelling, blistering, and redness. The area may look like it has a sheen from blisters and can be very painful. More severe burns may penetrate several layers of skin and damage nerves so that the surrounding area hurts but not the actual burned tissue. The skin may appear red, black, or white and seem very dry.
Treatment for Burns in Children
No matter the source, all burns need treatment, and some cause extreme pain, potentially leaving permanent scars. Burn treatment can be simple, such as running cool water over the area and applying soothing aloe gel to heal superficial burns. In these situations, treatment can occur at home with clean hands and a pain reliever. However, for second-degree burns, third-degree burns, extensive burns, infected skin, facial burns, or fire, electrical, or chemical burns, a child needs medical attention and should see a doctor. Until emergency medical help arrives for chemical or electrical burns, rinsing the affected area with cold water for at least five minutes helps reduce swelling and blistering until help arrives. If the injuries are severe, pediatric patients may spend a long time in the hospital and require skin grafts. Since a burn patient is at high risk for infection, careful monitoring is critical.
Burn therapy for third-degree burns in hospitals consists of cleaning and dressing the burn wounds or dermabrasion and skin grafts to replace tissue and hide scars. Dermabrasion is a procedure used to smooth and scrape off skin to minimize disfigurement. The healthcare team then hydrates the patient with electrolytes and administers antibiotics intravenously. They may also apply antibiotic creams or ointments to the affected area and give the patient pain medication. Then the burn area is kept warm and humid to aid in healing of the skin. The patient may also receive a tetanus shot to prevent dangerous infections. If the wounded area does not close, a doctor may determine a skin graft is necessary.
Improperly Performed Procedures for Childhood Burns
Skin grafting, which replaces burnt skin with healthy skin from another part of the body, can help a burn wound heal and improve the appearance of the area. Both dermabrasion and skin grafting may cause skin color changes, infection, bleeding, scarring, sensory loss, or uneven skin when skin grafts and dermabrasion are not performed correctly. A burn victim could end up with longer hospitalizations and permanent disfigurement when these procedures worsen the condition. Unnecessary skin grafts may also be a source of negligent practices by the treating physician and hospital where the treatment took place.
Even after leaving the hospital, burn victims may have follow-up plastic surgeries to improve the functionality and look of the burnt area, to improve the disfigured appearance caused by burn scars. A botched skin graft or cosmetic surgery can cause devastating harm to a child burn victim who may already suffer psychological pain from the injury and its aftermath. Aside from post-traumatic stress disorders from the painful burn and the painful treatment and surgeries, they may suffer low self-esteem from their conspicuous appearance.
Contact our NJ Child Burn Injury Attorneys for Help with Your Child’s Case
A child suffering burn wounds should not have to endure even more significant pain and shame for avoidable mistakes by medical professionals. Doctors know the medical protocols for burn treatment and must perform them with competency so as not to injure a patient further. Otherwise, a pediatric burn victim’s parents may have cause to sue their healthcare team and hospital for malpractice. Contact our New Jersey childhood burn injury lawyers if someone else’s negligence may have caused your child further harm. We can help you when deciding whether to pursue a claim for compensation.
By carefully analyzing each part of your child’s case, including the course of their medical treatment, our legal team will aid in determining if your child’s medical providers were negligent and if so, if your family has a valid cause for damages. Our skilled attorneys serve passionately when helping parents achieve a sense of comfort and hope for their child’s future. It is our purpose to ensure that families receive some solace when they get the compensation needed for medical treatments and therapies to help their child live a better life. Contact our New Jersey office at 866-708-8617 or by filling out our convenient form for a free consultation and legal review of your child’s burn injury case.