Rhode Island Burn Center director David Harrington, MD talks about caring for burn patients, and what it means to be a verified burn center.
The Rhode Island Burn Center at Rhode Island Hospital has been reverified as an adult and pediatric burn center
by the American
Burn Association and American
College of Surgeons. To receive this designation, a burn program
must meet rigorous standards in organizational structure, personnel
qualifications, facilities resources and medical care services.
“Rhode Island Hospital became a verified burn center several years after
the Station nightclub fire, which brought more than 75 patients to our
emergency department, many with life-threatening burn injuries,” said
David T. Harrington, MD, director of the Rhode Island Burn Center and a
physician with University Surgical Associates. “The burn center
designation was borne of that tragedy, and it is fitting that the
reverification of our center should come as we mark the Station fire’s
Harrington continued, “Burn patients are unlike many other trauma cases
– it’s not about broken bones that can heal, internal organs that can be
repaired and kept out of sight. For a burn patient, the injuries are
lifelong, they must learn to adapt to a new life in a new body. The
injuries can be devastating, but the strength and perseverance of many
of our patients is nothing short of remarkable.”
In order to receive and retain certification from the American Burn
Association, a burn center must employ a medical director who
demonstrates ongoing involvement in burn-related research; must have
timely access to operating rooms; the director must oversee total burn
care for 50 or more acutely burned patients each year, and the attending
staff surgeons must participate in the care of 50 or more acutely burned
patients each year. Additionally, a burn center must provide care across
the spectrum of the injury, including prevention, acute care,
rehabilitation and reintegration into society.
To help patients reintegrate, the Rhode Island Burn Center last year
launched a quarterly burn survivors’ support group. This group provides
a safe and comfortable environment for burn survivors and their loved
ones to share their stories and to receive support from both caregivers
at all levels, as well as from other survivors.
There are more than 2 million burns per year and approximately 10,000
burn-related deaths in the U.S., second only to motor vehicle accidents
as a cause of death.
The American Burn Association is dedicated to improving the lives of
everyone affected by burn injury through patient care, education,
research and advocacy. The ABA and its members dedicate their efforts
and resources to promoting and supporting burn-related research,
education, care, rehabilitation, and prevention. It has more than 3,500
members in the United States, Canada, Europe, Asia, and Latin America,
including physicians, nurses, occupational and physical therapists,
researchers, social workers, firefighters and hospitals with burn
A brief video about the Rhode Island Burn Center can be found here.