11 Burn Injury Nursing Care Plans

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In this guide are nursing diagnosis for burns nursing care plans. Included are nursing interventions and nursing assessment for burns. Learn about the goals, related factors of each nursing diagnosis and rationale for each nursing interventions for burns.

A burn injury is damage to your body’s tissues caused by heat, chemicals, electricity, sunlight or radiation. Scalds from hot liquids and steam, building fires and flammable liquids and gases are the most common causes of burns. A major burn is a catastrophic injury, requiring painful treatment and long period of rehabilitation. It’s commonly fatal or permanently disfiguring and incapacitating (both emotionally and physically).

Classification of Burns

Burns are classified according to depth and extent of injury. Classifications of the depth of burns include: first-degree (partial thickness), second-degree (superficial or deep partial thickness), and third-degree (full-thickness).

A first-degree burn indicates destruction of the epidermis resulting in localized pain and redness. Healing is complete and occurs within 5 to 10 days. A superficial second-degree burn indicates destruction of the epidermis and the upper third of the dermis; it is characterized by pain and blister formation. Healing is complete but requires extended time to occur. A deep second-degree burn indicates destruction of the epidermis and dermis, leaving only the epidermal skin appendages within the hair follicles. The skin may be waxy white in appearance and require grafting or prolonged periods of recovery. A third-degree burn indicated destruction of the entire epidermis and dermis and typically involves fat and muscle; the skin may be white, charred, or leathery in appearance. This burn requires skin grafting and prolonged periods of recovery.

Phases of Burn Injury

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Paying attention and caring for a patient with burns serve as an extraordinary demand to even the most experienced nursing staff because few injuries pose a greater threat to the patient’s physical and emotional wellbeing. There are three phases of burn injury, each requiring various levels of patient care. The three three phases are emergent phase, intermediate phase, and rehabilitative phase.

The emergent phase starts with the onset of burn injury and lasts until the completion of fluid resuscitation or a period of about the first 24 hours. During the emergent phase, the priority of patient care involves maintaining an adequate airway and treating the patient for burn shock.

The intermediate phase of burn care starts about 48–72 hours after the burn injury. Alterations in capillary permeability and a return of osmotic pressure bring about diuresis or increased urinary output. If renal and cardiac functions do not return to normal, the added fluid volume, which prevented hypovolemic shock, can now produce manifestations of congestive heart failure. Assessment of central venous pressure gives information regarding the patient’s fluid status.

The final stage in caring for a patient with burn injury is the rehabilitative stage. This stage starts with closure of the burn and ends when the patient has reached the optimal level of functioning. The focus is on helping the patient return to a normal injury-free life. Helping the patient adjust to the changes the injury has imposed is also a priority.

Nursing Care Plans

Nursing care involves immediate and aggressive burn treatment. Supportive measures and strict sterile technique should be implemented to minimize infection.

Here are 11 nursing care plans (NCP) and nursing diagnosis for patients with a burn injury (burns): 

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  1. Impaired Physical Mobility
  2. Deficient Knowledge
  3. Disturbed Body Image
  4. Fear/Anxiety
  5. Impaired Skin Integrity
  6. Imbalanced Nutrition: Less Than Body Requirements
  7. Risk for Ineffective Tissue Perfusion
  8. Acute Pain
  9. Risk for Infection
  10. Risk for Deficient Fluid Volume
  11. Risk for Ineffective Airway Clearance
  12. Other possible nursing care plans
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Acute Pain

Nursing Diagnosis

May be related to

  • Destruction of skin/tissues; edema formation
  • Manipulation of injured tissues, e.g., wound debridement

Possibly evidenced by

  • Reports of pain
  • Narrowed focus, facial mask of pain
  • Alteration in muscle tone; autonomic responses
  • Distraction/guarding behaviors; anxiety/fear, restlessness

Desired Outcomes

  • Report pain reduced/controlled.
  • Display relaxed facial expressions/body posture.
  • Participate in activities and sleep/rest appropriately.
Nursing InterventionsRationale
Nursing Assessment
Assess reports of pain, noting location and character and intensity (0–10 scale).Pain is nearly always present to some degree because of varying severity of tissue involvement and destruction but is usually most severe during dressing changes and debridement. Changes in location, character, intensity of pain may indicate developing complications (limb ischemia) or herald improvement and/or return of nerve function and sensation.
Therapeutic Interventions
Cover wounds as soon as possible unless open-air exposure burn care method required.Temperature changes and air movement can cause great pain to exposed nerve endings.
Elevate burned extremities periodically.Elevation may be required initially to reduce edema formation; thereafter, changes in position and elevation reduce discomfort and risk of joint contractures.
Provide bed cradle as indicated.Elevation of linens off wounds may help reduce pain.
Wrap digits or extremities in position of function (avoiding flexed position of affected joints) using splints and foot boards as necessary.Position of function reduces deformities or contractures and promotes comfort. Although flexed position of injured joints may feel more comfortable, it can lead to flexion contractures.
Change position frequently and assist with active and passive ROM as indicated.Movement and exercise reduce joint stiffness and muscle fatigue, but type of exercise depends on location and extent of injury.
Maintain comfortable environmental temperature, provide heat lamps, heat retaining body coverings.Temperature regulation may be lost with major burns. External heat sources may be necessary to prevent chilling.
Provide medication and/or place in hydrotherapy (as appropriate) before performing dressing changes and debridement.Reduces severe physical and emotional distress associated with dressing changes and debridement.
Encourage expression of feelings about pain.Verbalization allows outlet for emotions and may enhance coping mechanisms.
Involve patient in determining schedule for activities, treatments, drug administration.Enhances patient’s sense of control and strengthens coping mechanisms.
Explain procedures and provide frequent information as appropriate, especially during wound debridement.Empathic support can help alleviate pain and/or promote relaxation. Knowing what to expect provides opportunity for patient to prepare self and enhances sense of control.
Provide basic comfort measures: massage of uninjured areas, frequent position changes.Promotes relaxation; reduces muscle tension and general fatigue.
Encourage use of stress management techniques: progressive relaxation, deep breathing, guided imagery, and visualization.Refocuses attention, promotes relaxation, and enhances sense of control, which may reduce pharmacological dependency.
Provide diversional activities appropriate for age and condition.Helps lessen concentration on pain experience and refocus attention.
Promote uninterrupted sleep periods.Sleep deprivation can increase perception of pain/reduce coping abilities.
Administer analgesics (narcotic and nonnarcotic) as indicated: morphine; fentanyl (Sublimaze, Ultiva); hydrocodone (Vicodin, Hycodan); oxycodone(OxyContin, Percocet).The burned patient may require around-the-clock medication and dose titration. IV method is often used initially to maximize drug effect. Concerns of patient addiction or doubts regarding degree of pain experienced are not valid during emergent/acute phase of care, but narcotics should be decreased as soon as feasible and alternative methods for pain relief initiated.
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Recommended Resources

Recommended nursing diagnosis and nursing care plan books and resources.

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See also

Other recommended site resources for this nursing care plan:

Other nursing care plans affecting the integumentary system:

References and Sources

The following are the references and recommended sources for [focus keyword] including interesting resources to further your reading about the topic:

  • Ackley, B. J., Ladwig, G. B., Msn, R. N., Makic, M. B. F., Martinez-Kratz, M., & Zanotti, M. (2019). Nursing Diagnosis Handbook E-Book: An Evidence-Based Guide to Planning Care. Mosby. [Link]
  • Black, J. M., & Hawks, J. H. (2009). Medical-surgical nursing: Clinical management for positive outcomes (Vol. 1). A. M. Keene (Ed.). Saunders Elsevier. [Link]
  • Carpenito-Moyet, L. J. (2006). Handbook of nursing diagnosis. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. [Link]
  • Doenges, M. E., Moorhouse, M. F., & Murr, A. C. (2016). Nurse’s pocket guide: Diagnoses, prioritized interventions, and rationales. FA Davis. [Link]
  • Fisher, M. E., Moxham, P. A., & Bradshaw, B. W. (1989). U.S. Patent No. 4,813,422. Washington, DC: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. [Link]
  • Gulanick, M., & Myers, J. L. (2016). Nursing Care Plans: Diagnoses, Interventions, and Outcomes. Elsevier Health Sciences. [Link]
  • Lewis, S. M., Dirksen, S. R., Heitkemper, M. M., Bucher, L., & Harding, M. (2017). Medical-surgical nursing: Assessment and management of clinical problems.
Matt Vera is a registered nurse with a bachelor of science in nursing since 2009 and is currently working as a full-time writer and editor for Nurseslabs. During his time as a student, he knows how frustrating it is to cram on difficult nursing topics. Finding help online is nearly impossible. His situation drove his passion for helping student nurses by creating content and lectures that are easy to digest. Knowing how valuable nurses are in delivering quality healthcare but limited in number, he wants to educate and inspire nursing students. As a nurse educator since 2010, his goal in Nurseslabs is to simplify the learning process, break down complicated topics, help motivate learners, and look for unique ways of assisting students in mastering core nursing concepts effectively.
  • Thanks Staff Matt for the NCP’S, they’ve been very helpful in my studies! Keep up the hardwork!
    -God bless

  • Comment: thank you so much for the care plan. but can we say the diagnose and the care plan are according to priority?

  • Thanks and appreciation to the staff of this website. You have brought the world close to us that we can read at anytime we want to. May God Almighty work for your good wishes!
    🙏🙏 THANKS

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