Advice on Transfer and Consultation

  • These guidelines are designed to be used to aid in clinical decision-making. If you have sustained a burn injury, please seek medical advice from a medical professional.
  • Local and regional infrastructure, resources, and relationships may determine the necessity and timeliness of burn center referral.
  • These guidelines are not meant to be definitive care recommendations. They may facilitate building the proper referral network within the local healthcare community.

Burn Severity Determination

  • Dry, red, easily blanching, sometimes painful
  • Example: Sunburn
  • NOT counted in calculations of total burn surface area (TBSA)
Superficial Partial Thickness
  • Moist, red, blanching, blisters, very painful
  • Counted in calculations of total burn surface area (TBSA)
Deep Partial Thickness
  • Drier, more pale, less blanching, less pain
  • Counted in calculations of total burn surface area (TBSA)
Full Thickness
  • Dry, leathery texture, variable color (white, brown, black), loss of pin prick sensation
  • Counted in calculations of total burn surface area (TBSA)

Percentage Total Body Surface Area (TBSA)

“Rule of Nines”
“Palmar Method”

Copyright© 2022 American Burn Association. The downloadable PDF of the ABA Guidelines for Burn Patient Referral may be distributed in its original form, in its entirety, without permission provided that attribution is given to the American Burn Association. All requests to edit, repurpose, or reprint require permission by emailing with the details of the request.

Burn Incidence Fact Sheet

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 National Burn Repository (NBR) of the American Burn Association (ABA). ABA NBR reports describe admissions to hospitals with specialized services provided by “burn centers.”