Burn Incidence and Treatment in the United States

The following estimates were derived from sample and registry statistics compiled by ongoing national health care and fire casualty surveys, selected state health data systems, and the Burn Care Quality Platform (BCQP) of the American Burn Association (ABA). ABA BCQP reports describe admissions to hospitals with specialized services provided by “burn centers.” 

Burn Injuries Receiving Medical Treatment: 398,000

Source: CDC, National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey 2021 (accessed January 2024)

Fire/Smoke Inhalation Deaths: 3,800

Of the total 3,800 fire/smoke inhalation deaths, 3,010 are due to structure fire, and 680 are due to motor vehicle fire. This equates to one fire related death every 2 hours and 17 minutes. 

Source: National Fire Protection Association, Fire loss in the US trend tables 2021 (accessed January 2024).

National Hospital Burn Admissions Per Year: 29,165

According to the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) National Inpatient Sample (NIS), the 29,165 burn admissions per year (weighted estimates) represent 88.5 admissions per million lives per year. There were 795 inpatient deaths (overall mortality 2.7%) and, of those admissions, 15,280 (52.4%) were for minor injuries not requiring surgical treatment with an inpatient mortality of 0.36%. Extensive burns requiring surgical treatment and prolonged mechanical ventilation accounted for 1,290 (4.4%) of all admissions with an inpatient mortality of 17.8%. Deep burns requiring surgical treatment without prolonged ventilation were 9,340 (32%) of all admissions and had an inpatient mortality of 2.6%.  

Burn centers are not labeled in the NIS; however, 94 hospitals admitted at least 100 burn encounters per year. These facilities were responsible for 81% of all burn admissions and had a median burn admission/year of 203 (interquartile range 140, 305).  

Burn admissions were most common May-August with 37.5% of all admissions occurring in this period (i.e. 37.5% of admissions during 33.3% of the year). US Census Area 5 (South Atlantic) had the most admissions (26.0%) while US Census Area 1 (New England) had the fewest admissions (3.0%).  

In terms of demographics, of all burn admissions in the US, 33.3% were female, 57.1% were White non-Hispanic, 19.6% were Black non-Hispanic, 14.5% were Hispanic of any race, 2.6% were Asian/Pacific Islander, and 0.8% were Native American.  

For primary payor, 20.1% had Medicare, 33.3% had Medicaid, 26.6% had private/commercial insurance, and 10.2% were uninsured/self-payer.  

Age had a multimodal distribution. For those under 18, the median age of injury with 3 years with an interquartile range of 1 to 8. For adults, the median age of injury was 49 years with an interquartile range of 33 to 62.  

Source: 2020 Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP)/National Inpatient Sample (NIS) data (accessed January 2024; all figures are weighted for national estimates; includes both burn centers and non-burn centers) 

Selected Statistics: 2018-2022 Burn Admissions to Burn Centers

Survival Rate: 97.7%
Median Age: 39 years 

Gender: 66% Male, 34% Female
Ethnicity: 59% Caucasian, 20% African-American, 14% Hispanic, 7% Other
Admission Cause: 40% Fire/Flame, 32% Scald, 10% Contact, 3% Electrical, 3% Chemical, 9% Other 

Source: Burn Injury Summary Report, American Burn Association 2023 

Additional summary data available in the 2023 BISR brief.