The Hand Burn Severity (HABS) score: A simple tool for stratifying severity of hand burns

Sarah E. Bache, Edmund Fitzgerald O'Connor, Evgenia Theodorakopoulou, Quentin Frew, Bruce Philp, Peter Dziewulski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Hand burns represent a unique challenge to the burns team due to the intricate structure and unrivalled functional importance of the hand. The initial assessment and prognosis relies on consideration of the specific site involved as well as depth of the burn. We created a simple severity score that could be used by referring non-specialists and researchers alike. The Hand Burn Severity (HABS) score stratifies hand burns according to severity with a numerical value of between 0 (no burn) and 18 (most severe) per hand. Three independent assessors scored the photographs of 121 burned hands of 106 adult and paediatric patients, demonstrating excellent inter-rater reliability (r = 0.91, p < 0.0001 on testing with Lin's correlation coefficient). A significant relationship was shown between the HABS score and a reliable binary outcome of the requirement for surgical excision on Mann–Whitney U testing (U = 152; Z = 9.8; p = 0.0001). A receiver operator characteristic (ROC) curve analysis found a cut off score of 5.5, indicating that those with a HABS score below 6 did not require an operation, whereas those with a score above 6 did. The HABS score was shown to be more sensitive and specific that assessment of burn depth alone. The HABS score is a simple to use tool to stratify severity at initial presentation of hand burns which will be useful when referring, and when reporting outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)93-99
Number of pages7
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Assessment
  • Hand burns
  • Severity
  • Upper extremity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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