Volume 34, Issue 2 (March 1989)
The Epidemiology of Fatal Burn Injuries
The paper retrospectively reviews 80 burn fatalities from accidents or attempted suicides with patients admitted to the LAC-USC Medical Center from 1983 to 1987 to determine demographic factors, etiology of the burn injury, and existence of predisposing risk factors. The average age of fatal burn victims was 44 years; 74% were males, 39% were Caucasian, 35% were black, 21% were Hispanic, and 5% were of Asian descent. Blacks and Caucasians were overrepresented and Hispanics underrepresented in relation to all autopsy cases. Major etiologic factors included suicide, falling asleep while smoking, accidents while working with volatile solvents, housefires, scalds, cooking accidents, and accidents involving motor vehicles. Gasoline was the commonest solvent involved with burn fatalities. Significant risk factors for burn fatality were substance abuse (25% of cases) and impaired mental function (19% of cases).