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Introduction: Hypothermia, acidaemia and coagulopathy in trauma is associated with significant mortality. This study aimed to identify the incidence of the lethal triad in major burns, and describe demographics and outcomes. Methods: Patients admitted during a 71 month period with a total body surface area burn (TBSA) ≥ 30% were identified. A structured review of a prospective database was conducted. The lethal triad was defined as a combination of coagulopathy (International normalised ratio > 1.2), hypothermia (temperature ≤ 35.5°C) and acidaemia (pH ≤ 7.25). Results: Fifteen of 117 patients fulfilled the criteria for the lethal triad on admission. Lethal triad patients had a higher median (IQR) abbreviated burn severity index (ABSI) (12 (9-13) vs. 8.5 (6-10), p = 0.001), mean (SD) TBSA burn (59.2% (18.7) vs. 47.9% (18.1), p = 0.027), mean (SD) age (46 (22.6) vs. 33 (28.3) years, p = 0.033), and had a higher incidence of inhalational injury (p < 0.0001) and full-thickness burns (p = 0.021). Both groups received similar volumes of fluid (p > 0.05). The lethal triad was associated with increased mortality (66.7% vs. 13.7%, p < 0.0001). With logistic regression analysis and adjustment for ABSI, the lethal triad was not shown to be a predictor of mortality (p > 0.05). Conclusion: Burn patients with the lethal triad have a high mortality rate which reflects the severity of the injury sustained.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





1492 - 1496