The Cost of Burn Transfers Journal Articles uri icon

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  • The transport of thermally injured patients can involve significant costs; however, not all thermally injured patients necessitate transfer to a burn center. The purpose of this study was to review transfers to an American Burn Association-verified regional burn center to determine whether the transfers were necessary and the cost associated with unnecessary transfers. A retrospective chart review identified 707 patients transferred to an American Burn Association-verified burn center with an acute burn injury during a 7-year period. For the purposes of this study, "unnecessary transfer" was defined as any patient admitted fewer than 7 days who did not undergo operative intervention. Transfer cost estimates were based on records from regional land paramedic and land and air medical transport services. In total, 27.3% of transfers were potentially "unnecessary transfers," with an associated cost of approximately $227,396.93 (18.9% of total transfer costs in study). Average unnecessary transfer cost varied by method of transport: land ambulance (n = 130) $285.72, helicopter (n = 27) $4,136.34, and airplane (n = 15) $4,908.67. The transfer of thermally injured patients is associated with significant cost. Unnecessary transfers represent an inefficient use of a limited resource in an already strained healthcare system. The findings of this study suggest that further initiatives should be explored to ensure the appropriate transfer of thermally injured patients.


  • Austin, Ryan E
  • Schlagintweit, Sofie
  • Jeschke, Marc
  • MacDonald, Russell
  • Ahghari, Mahvareh
  • Shahrokhi, Shahriar

publication date

  • May 2017