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Radiation burn S030

Last amended 
16 January 2024
Current RMA Instruments
Reasonable Hypothesis SOP
5 of 2024 as amended
Balance of Probabilities SOP
6 of 2024 as amended
Changes from previous Instruments

RMA SOP Bulletin 240.pdf

ICD coding

ICD-10-AM codes: L59.8

Brief description

A radiation burn involves injury to the skin and tissues due to external exposure to ionising radiation. Such injury can sometimes be more severe to also include the deep tissues and organs (multiple burn injury). 

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
  • Ionising radiation injury 
Conditions not covered by these SOPs  
  • Ultraviolet radiation burns #
  • Isolated ionising radiation burn of the internal body organs such as the respiratory tract, gastrointestinal tract and internal genitourinary tract #

* another SOP applies

# non-SOP condition

Clinical onset

The time until the clinical onset of ionising radiation burns can vary due to various factors including the type and amount of radiation exposure as well as the sensitivity of the person to radiation. Generally, the injury can present within minutes to a few hours after exposure or days to weeks after exposure. The clinical symptoms and signs can often involve skin changes, nausea or fatigue. 

Clinical worsening

A radiation 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 burn that is more than superficial is likley to result in a clinical worsening.