Nutrition is a critical component of acute burn care and wound healing. There is no consensus over the appropriate timing of initiating enteral nutrition in geriatric burn patients. This study aimed to assess the impact of early enteral nutrition on outcomes in this patient population. We performed a 1-year (2017) analysis of the American College of Surgeons Trauma Quality Improvement Program and included all older adult (age ≥65 years) isolated thermal burn patients who were admitted for more than 24 hours and received enteral nutrition. Patients were stratified into two groups based on the timing of initiation of feeding: Early (≤24 hours) vs. Late (>24 hours). Multivariate logistic regression was performed to control for potential confounding factors. Outcome measures were hospital and intensive care unit lengths of stay, in-hospital complications, and mortality. A total of 1,004,440 trauma patients were analyzed, of which 324 patients were included (Early: 90 vs. Late: 234). Mean age was 73.9 years and mean total body surface area burnt was 31%. Patients in the early enteral nutrition group had significantly lower rates of in-hospital complications and mortality (15.6% vs. 26.1%; p=0.044), and a shorter hospital length of stay (17 [11,23] days vs. 20 [14,24] days; p=0.042) and intensive care unit length of stay (13 [8,15] days vs. 17 [9,21] days; p=0.042). In our regression model of geriatric burn patients, early enteral nutrition was associated with improved outcomes. The cumulative benefits observed may warrant incorporating early enteral nutrition as part of intensive care protocols.
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