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Criteria for Referral

Guideline for Transfer of Patients to Burn Centers

Download:  UC San Diego Regional Burn Center Transfer Check List

The American Burn Association and the American College of Surgeons recommend transfer to a burn center for all acutely burned patients who meet any of the following criteria (Questions concerning specific patients should be resolved by consultation with the burn center physician):

  1. Partial thickness burns >= 20% Total Body Surface Area (TBSA) in patients aged 10 - 50 years old.
  2. Partial thickness burns >=10% TBSA in children aged 10 or adults aged 50 years old.
  3. Full-thickness burns >= 5% TBSA in patients of any age.

    Video: Rules of Nine

  4. Patients with partial or full-thickness burns of the hands, feet, face, eyes, ears, perineum, and/or major joints.
  5. Patients with high-voltage electrical injuries, including lightning injuries.
  6. Patients with significant burns from caustic chemicals.
  7. Patients with burns complicated by multiple trauma in which the burn injury poses the greatest risk of morbidity or mortality. In such cases, if the trauma poses the greater immediate risk, the patient may be treated initially in a trauma center until stable before being transferred to a burn center. Physician judgment will be necessary in such situations and should be in concert with the regional medical control plan and triage protocols.
  8. Patients with burns who suffer inhalation injury.
  9. Patients with significant ongoing medical disorders that could complicate management, prolong recovery, or affect mortality.
  10. Hospitals without qualified personnel or equipment for the care of children should transfer children with burns to a burn center with these capabilities.
  11. Burn Injury in patients who will require special social/emotional and /or long-term rehabilitative support, including cases involving suspected child abuse, substance abuse, etc.

Contact UC San Diego Regional Burn Center: 

Ph 619.543.6502
Fx 619.543.6764 
Learn more about patient care


American Burn Association: Hospital and Prehospital Resources for Optimal Care of Patients with Burn Injury: Guidelines for Development and Operation of Burn Centers. Journal of Burn Care and Rehabilitation, 1990, 11:98-104.

American College of Surgeons: Resources for Optimal Care of the Injured Patient: 1993. 1993 by the American College of Surgeons, p. 64. (May, 1996)

*DISCLAIMER This site is designed as an introduction to thermal injury for emergency medical technicians, medical students and physicians in training. It is not a comprehensive guide to thermal injury. As such the information may not be sufficient to address specific patient problems and these should be handled by physicians familiar with the specific clinical details pertinent to the individual patient. We invite comments from all users of this site.

Read the 2017/18 Surgery Annual Report

In this year's Annual Report, we share our vision for clinical care, research, and training, and the latest news from our 13 specialty divisions. From transformational clinical growth—which means healthier patients in our region—to extending our training capabilities by expanding the Center for the Future of Surgery; to exciting new research collaborations, in the last year, UC San Diego's Department of Surgery lived out its mission to do the very, very best for today's and tomorrow's patients.