Intermountain Burn Center

American Burn Association

50 North Medical Drive
Salt Lake City, Utah 84132
Phone 801-581-2700

Burn Webmaster
U of U Healthcare

Project Overview

This demonstration project will pioneer the use of telemedicine for the immediate evaluation and treatment of acute burn injuries in the Intermountain West. This resource is needed for several reasons. The greatly improved survival, reduced costs, and enhanced outcomes for patients treated at modern burn centers are undisputed. However, the expertise needed to obtain such outcomes has become increasingly centralized within a diminishing number of centers in the US. The Intermountain Burn Center at the University of Utah is the only such facility available for a five state region (Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, and northern Nevada), encompassing one-fifth of the geographical area of the continental United States. Rural residents, children, the elderly, those living in poverty, and some Native Americans are known to suffer an increased risk of burn injuries, but their access to burn treatment is restricted by distance and resources. Even when such patients can reach local hospitals, physicians may have limited familiarity with burn treatment. As a result, significant under- and over-triage occurs. At worst, such errors can be fatal; at the very least, they are tremendously costly and inefficient. In addition, few resources are available to assist patients who are not transported, or for those following discharge.

The goals of the TABC project will address many of these issues. We will provide three hospitals partnering with us on this project with high quality, real-time video and audio telemedicine technology. We will develop protocols to evaluate burn injuries remotely. Using this system, emergency physicians in Boise, ID, Helena, MT, and Billings, MT will be able to contact Intermountain Burn Center physicians immediately and at any time, and transmit secure, detailed images of acutely burned patients for consultation. Because burn wounds are cutaneous injuries, these images should permit experienced clinicians at the Intermountain Burn Center to make detailed diagnoses quickly. This information will guide initial decisions regarding fluid resuscitation, airway control, topical care, and the need for and urgency of transport. Using telemedicine in acute burn care will reduce financial and other burdens to patients and their families.

We also hope to use this technology to provide partner hospitals with a variety of other educational materials, including televised conferences and burn care lectures, follow-up clinics for discharged burn patients, and focused burn prevention education. The information we gather on burn incidence, etiology, and outcome will permit research to enhance our understanding of the demographics, prevention, and treatment of burn injuries among rural groups, and to demonstrate that this system is feasible, practical, and tremendously cost-effective. We believe the success of this demonstration project will enable us to expand the project in the future to become a truly regional resource, including many more health care facilities and remote areas of the Intermountain West. In addition, this link will be immediately available in the event of a mass casualty disaster or terrorist incident, permitting rapid evaluation of large numbers of patients, avoidance of delays, and appropriate direction of limited resources and personnel.

Over one million burn injuries occur in the United States each year, ultimately resulting in approximately 4,500 deaths. Burn death rates in rural communities are at least double the rates in larger towns and cities. We believe this project will serve as a model for burn care delivery in the future, extending the expertise of a few highly-specialized centers of excellence within reach of the entire community which they serve.

University of Utah Health Sciences Center
50 North Medical Drive, Salt Lake City, Utah 84132
HSC Webmaster