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Chemical burn S029

Last amended 
16 January 2024
Reasonable Hypothesis SOP
3 of 2024 as amended
Balance of Probabilities SOP
4 of 2024 as amended
Changes from previous Instruments

RMA SOP Bulletin 240.pdf

ICD coding

ICD-10-AM codes: T30

A chemical burn involves injury to the skin and tissues due to external contact with chemical agents. Such inuries can sometimes be more severe to also include the deep tissues and organs (multiple chemical burn injury). Chemical burns may result in a systemic response involving systemic inflammation and vascular shock. 

Confirming the diagnosis

This is a clinical diagnosis based on the history and findings on examination.

The relevant medical specialist is an emergency physician, dermatologist or plastic surgeon.

Additional diagnoses covered by these SOPs
  • Burns due to contact with corrosive chemicals
Conditions not covered by these SOPs  
  • Irritant contact dermatitis * Irritant contact dermatitis SOP
  • Allergic contact dermatitis * Allergic ontact dermatitis SOP
  • Isolated internal burns involving respiratory tract, gastrointestinal tract and genitourinary tract #

* another SOP applies

# non-SOP condition

Clinical onset

This is instantaneous with the application of the agent. Any time delay within the factors represents the time to recognise the injury, but these injuries occur within minutes of exposure to the chemical agent. 

Clinical worsening

A chemical burn is an injury.  Any subsequent burn is a new injury that requires the SOP to be invoked again.

The natural history of a burn depends on the severity (depth) of the burn and the extent of the body surface that is affected.  Superficial burns can heal without scaring.  Severe extensive burns can be fatal or cause severe scarring.

Inability to obtain appropriate clinical management for a chemical burn that is more than superficial is likley to result in a clinical worsening.