Providers at the UCH Burn Center can often heal patients more quickly, with less pain and fewer complications.
Colorado's leader in treating burns
We're the only adult burn center in Colorado verified by the American Burn Association and the American College of Surgeons. We have been Colorado's leading burn center since 1976.
We've earned this distinction because we bring a unique multidisciplinary team to meet the complex needs of patients coping with burn, trauma and other serious skin conditions.
What are Burns?
A burn isn't always the result of flames or heat. A burn is damage to body tissue caused by heat, cold, electricity, chemicals or radiation.
About a million Americans a year suffer burn injuries, resulting in 45,000 hospitalizations.
Approximately 3,500 people die each year from residential fires, and 500 from burns sustained in motor vehicle and aircraft crashes. A majority of burns occur in the home, followed by the street/highway and workplace.
Burns are classified as first, second or third degree, according to their severity. The most common types of burns include:
- Contact with a hot object
What about Frostbite?
In some ways frostbite's effects on skin and tissue is similar to that of burns.
Some signs and symptoms of frostbite include:
- loss of feeling to exposed body parts
- white or gray and waxy looking skin
If you are showing signs and symptoms of frostbite, go to your doctor or the nearest emergency room immediately.
The Burn ICU at UCH offers specialized treatment and expert care of frostbite victims that has prevented the loss of fingers and toes.
Tips for Frostbite Prevention
- Be prepared for winter weather and dress appropriately in multiple loose layers of clothing with the top layer being wind proof and water repellant. The layers help trap air and keep you warm.
- Remove wet clothing as soon as possible.
- Wear mittens instead of gloves as they offer better protection.
- Limit the amount of time you are outdoors. Frostbite can occur within minutes on a day that is less than 20 degrees Fahrenheit with winds of 20 mph.
- Do not drink alcohol if you will be outside on a cold day.
Your Burn Medical Team
Burn patients have many complex needs. What makes our approach effective is that physicians and nurses from many related specialties form a team to understand and treat each special patient and each patient's special circumstances.
Each team is made up of:
Surgeons – a medical doctor with education and training in diagnosing and providing surgical care.
Registered nurse – graduated from a formal nursing education program and is licensed by the state of Colorado.
Burn technician – specially trained in treating burn wounds
Psychiatrist – a board-certified medical doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating mental disorders.
Pharmacist – has a doctorate degree in the science of medication.
Other Burn Staff
Social workers – help individuals ensure their personal well being and provide the resources for people to get the help they need, by assessing all aspects of their life and culture.
Case workers – help patients by coordinating services and other needs
Nutritionists – health professionals with special training in nutrition. They help patients determine the best dietary choices for better health.
Physical therapists – a licensed health care professional who use a variety of tools to help patients improve mobility.
Occupational therapists – a health professional trained to help people improve their ability to do daily tasks.
Tests, Treatments, and Therapies
Physical exam – a doctor will examine you to determine the kind of burn and its severity
We're an "academic hospital," which means our burn team, with its great research base at the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine, stays current with the newest, best treatments and medicine. It uses the most advanced range of wound healing techniques before using surgical intervention, including:
Collagenase – an enzyme that breaks down collagen in damaged tissue and helps healthy tissue to grow
Surgery – used for a variety of purposes, including wound debridement and cleaning, to release scar tissue, and for skin grafting on full-thickness wounds
Patients get early and ongoing therapies to help them heal more quickly, including:
Physical therapy – our physical therapists work to improve patient mobility
Occupational therapy – our occupational therapists work to help patients improve ability to perform daily tasks
Nutrition therapy – our dedicated nutritionist understands the special caloric needs of burn patients
Ongoing research is one of the things that sets University of Colorado Hospital apart from other hospitals in the region. UCH researchers currently are conducting a variety of research into caring for burn patients. Some of the areas being studied include:
- Fecal management in burn patients
- Improvements in wound care
- Red blood cell synthesis.
New Burn Research
Our researchers also are looking at erythropoises in burns. The focus is red blood cell synthesis. The goal is to minimize burn patients' blood transfusions.
Burn Research Trials
For information on specific research trials, please contact Dr. Gordon Lindberg, (720) 848-7583.
AJ Hibshman was struck by lightning in southeast Denver in September 2012. After receiving initial treatment at Denver Health, he was transferred to the Burn Center at UCH. AJ's wife Rebecca released this statement.
Statement from Rebecca Hibshman
I think you want to talk to me because you want a hero story. I'm sorry that I can't give you that. I didn't save my husband’s life; I just didn't let him die. I knew CPR and used that knowledge when I needed it. That doesn't make me a hero. If I had the knowledge and didn't use it, that would make me evil. My husband didn't die because I knew CPR. He didn't die because my brother knew that the most important thing they teach in a CPR class is to call 911 before doing a single compression. My husband didn't die because another Hebrew Educational Alliance (HEA) member saw the lightning strike and ran towards it, rather than away, to see if anyone needed help, and then she stayed with us in the lightning storm to help me do CPR. My husband is still alive because EMS arrived in less than 4 minutes to help stabilize him and get him to a hospital. He is still alive and on his way to recovery because of the amazing nurses, doctors and therapists at Denver Health and at University of Colorado Hospital. An entire community saved my husbands' life.
I spent days trying to figure out why this happened and what it all means. Some wise people have helped me to realize that what matters more is whether I can learn anything from this horrible experience.
First and foremost, if you don't know CPR you need to learn it. I knew CPR because my mother taught me and everyone she came in contact with that we have a moral imperative to have the basic knowledge that could save someone's life. I also learned from her that if I have the knowledge, I don't have to panic in an emergency situation. I can access that knowledge, do what needs to be done and think about it later. Knowledge saves lives, and you can start be taking a CPR and basic first aid class.
My husband is recovering well, considering the horrible burns on his legs, chest, abdomen and neck. He is strong and stable and very lucky that none of his internal organs were damaged. He has a long and painful recovery ahead, but I am confident that he will recover. I cannot say thank you enough to my family, my friends, my coworkers and the entire Hebrew Educational Alliance community for all of your love and support. I would not still be standing right now without you!