The Montreal Children's Hospital of the MUHC unveils new approach to burn trauma care

Modern treatment reduces pain and enables many kids to return home sooner

The Montreal Children's Hospital of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) has adopted a new approach to the treatment of children with mild to severe burns. The new approach to burn trauma care was developed over the last two years as part of the Children's expansion of its highly specialized and comprehensive trauma program.

The Children's Emergency Department treats a burn victim every other day. Patients receive individualized care tailored to the severity of their burns. Children with the most severe burns are immediately admitted to hospital. For children with less severe burns, care is provided on an outpatient basis whenever possible. "The Children's favours treating children on an ambulatory basis because it reduces the trauma associated with a hospital stay," says Debbie Friedman, head of the Children's Trauma Program.

Also as part of its approach to burn trauma care, The Children's has begun using a variety of new burn dressing products. In many instances, these new dressings require changing only every four to five days unlike silver sulpha diazine, the traditional and still frequently used treatment, which requires dressing changes once or twice a day and scrubbing of the burn area. The traditional approach is a very painful procedure. Patients are given medication to numb the pain. "Because the metabolism of burn victims operates at top speed, these children need to eat well. Reducing their pain medication allows them to have a healthier appetite," says Dr. Dominic Chalut, medical director of The Children's Emergency Department.
In addition, the new dressings are less bulky allowing children to move about more freely. The products also allow for better air circulation, which promotes healing.
"Overall the newer products significantly reduce the pain and anxiety children endure and the stress on their families," says Chalut. "We plan to use these new products even more frequently."

Other centers using a similar approach to The Children's include the Alberta Children's Hospital, The B.C. Children's Hospital, the Shriner's Hospital in Boston and the St. Louis Children's Hospital Burn Center.

"Historically, the Montreal Children's Hospital has always been willing to adopt new and innovative approaches to patient care," says Friedman. "This is especially true of the Children's trauma program, which is widely respected across Quebec and Canada. In fact, many hospitals are adopting the Children's approach to trauma care."