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Pediatric Sink-Bathing: A Risk for Scald Burns

Baggott, Kaitlin BA; Rabbitts, Angela RN, MS*; Leahy, Nicole E. RN, MPH; Bourke, Patrick RN, BSN; Yurt, Roger W. MD, FACS*

doi: 10.1097/BCR.0b013e31827e5049
Original Articles

Our burn center previously reported a significant incidence of scald burns from tap water among patients treated at the center. However, mechanism of these scalds was not investigated in detail. A recent series of pediatric patients who sustained scalds while bathing in the sink was noted. To evaluate the extent of these injuries and create an effective prevention program for this population, a retrospective study of bathing-related sink burns among pediatric patients was performed. Patients between the ages of 0 and 5.0 years who sustained scald burns while being bathed in the sink were included in this study. Sex, race, age, burn size, length of stay, and surgical procedures were reviewed. During the study period of January 2003 through August 2008, 56 patients who were scalded in the sink were admitted, accounting for 54% of all bathing-related scalds. Among these, 56% were boys and 45% were Hispanic. Mean age was 0.8 ± 0.1 years. Burn size and hospital length of stay averaged 5 ± 0.7% and 11 ± 1 days, respectively. Of this group, 10.7% required skin grafting. The overwhelming majority (94% of patients) were discharged home. The remaining patients were discharged to inpatient rehabilitation, foster care, and others. Pediatric scald burns sustained while bathing in a sink continue to be prevalent at our burn center. Because of limited space and the child’s proximity to faucet handles and water flow, sinks are an unsafe location to bathe a child. While such practice may be necessary for some families, comprehensive burn prevention education must address this hazard.

*Department of Surgery, Weill Medical College of Cornell University, New York, New York; and Department of Surgery, William Randolph Hearst Burn Center, NewYork Presbyterian, New York, New York.

Presented at the 41st Annual Meeting of the American Burn Association, March 24–27, 2009, San Antonio, Texas.

Address correspondence to Angela Rabbitts, RN, MS, Weill Medical College of Cornell University, 525 East 68th St, Starr 8, New York, NY 10065; Email:

© 2013 The American Burn Association