Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot: A Primer on Burn Injuries

Medical science has advanced greatly in our lifetime, but some illnesses and injuries stubbornly remain difficult to treat. Burn injuries, for example, are notoriously hard to heal. Even with specialized burn units in some of the nation's best medical facilities - like the award-winning Regions Hospital Burn Center in St. Paul and the acclaimed burn center at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis - serious burns still result in severe trauma to the body and can easily be fatal.

Some may assume that serious burns only happen to firefighters, electricians who endure powerful shocks on the job, laborers using hot asphalt or to those working around open flames, but that just isn't the case. Burn hazards are closer than you think, and they can happen to anyone, at any time, particularly if proper precautions haven't been taken to prevent them.

Are burn injuries lurking around every corner?

Burn hazards might not necessarily be around every corner, but they are definitely around some of them, in places that you might not ever have considered looking.

An example of an innocuous location that can be the site of severe burn injuries: a local salon or spa. In addition to the obvious heightened cancer risk, every year people are seriously burned in tanning beds, sometimes because of the negligence of a tanning facility that fails to either educate the user about time limits or neglects to set a "shutoff" time for the bed.

Tanning bed burns can also be caused by design or manufacturing defects in the beds themselves. Some unlucky salon patrons have also been severely burned by hot body wax used for hair removal, something that can result in third degree burns, blisters and potentially permanent scarring.

Media coverage has drawn attention to one unusual and very "new-fangled" source of burn injuries: medical facility fires. Patients have been severely burned by accidental sparks igniting oxygen in operating rooms, something that could, depending on the circumstances, indicate medical negligence. Fires have also been caused by some advanced robotic surgical systems not performing as intended, which might warrant a legal action against the device manufacturer.

In addition, some patients have received first-, second- or even third-degree burns from magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines when:

  • A body part is in direct contact with a cable or electrode from the machine,
  • They are wearing a transdermal medicine patch that contains a conductive material, or
  • They have a medical device implant (such as a pacemaker or IUD) that overheats and causes internal burns.

The damage

Burn injuries are notoriously hard to treat, particularly if they result in open sores or wounds. These are essentially breeding grounds for bacteria, and must be monitored closely to prevent a possibly life-threatening infection from setting in. Burns also result in excessive scarring, some of which might be helped by the intervention of an experienced plastic surgeon, but is often untreatable.

Burn injuries are life-changing regardless of what age you are when they occur, though they are particularly challenging for children who, thanks to the carelessness or negligence of another person or business, could carry mental and physical scars with them forever. Have you or a loved one received a serious burn injury caused by another person or company? Would you like to know more about possible legal avenues to hold the responsible parties accountable? If so, speak with an experienced Minnesota personal injury attorney in your area today.