Severe burns

A person with severe burns has suffered a major trauma injury and must undergo routine trauma care.

In Victoria, severe burns include: 

  • More than 20% TBSA burns 
  • High voltage electrical injury (more than 1000 volts) 
  • Inhalation injury with or without dermal injury 

To commence care, conduct a primary and secondary trauma survey so that immediate life-threatening conditions can be identified. Then emergency or early management can proceed.

Initial Management of Severe Burns chart - download

Primary survey

The first step in the initial assessment of a seriously injured patient — focuses on identifying life-threatening problems.

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Secondary survey

Following the primary survey, the secondary survey focuses on examining for specific injuries.

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Early management of severe burns

Prioritised according to the needs identified in the primary and secondary surveys.

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Important considerations and FAQs

Be aware of hypothermia. It is easy to forget to keep the patient warm.

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Emergency Contacts

In the case of a severe burns emergency, please call 000

For ambulance services requiring acute transfer:

Burns Services and Referral

There are two specilised burns centres in Victoria:

  • Victorian Adult Burns Service (VABS) at the Alfred
  • Burns Unit at the Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne

These specialist burns units are located within designated state Major Trauma Services (MTS) and are staffed and equipped approriately to manage burns. 

Refer to our service

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Victorian Adult Burn Service transfer criteria


Less common severe burns

Find out how to treat chemical burns, including chemical ocular burns and electrical burns.

Severe electrical burns

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Severe chemical burns

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Trauma Victoria Burns Guidelines

These guidelines focus on the burn-specific components of the critical hours of care before arrival at the burn service. Their principles can also be applied to significant, but less severe burns between 10 – 19%. 

Trauma Victoria also provides a guide, if you are looking for other major trauma guidelines.

Visit Trauma Victoria's website