The complete absence of burn centers in North Dakota means that badly burned
construction accident victims of the Bakkenoil field region must be transported to Twin Cities
hospitals for treatment. The transport process is no quick matter since
only "...17 percent of North Dakota residents can be transported
by air or ground to a burn center within two hours..." This fact
can negatively impact the long-term prognosis of a victim.
As reported by the
, burn centers are among the most expensive medical facilities to operate,
and even in states with large populations burn doctors are scarce, making
such centers difficult to staff. "States with low populations, like
the Dakotas...have not been able to justify opening such expensive, specialized
While the overall population of North Dakota remains relatively low compared
to the national average, according to
the population of men has increased by approximately 100,000 between 2009
and 2014. With many of those men having flocked to the state to work in
the Bakken oil field region there is a significantly increased need of
treatment for severe burns. In the last 5 years alone the state has seen
more than 3,100 burn injuries among workers.
Despite the increase in need, the state's medical facilities have not
evolved to include even a single burn center. The lack of adequate in-state
facilities means that construction accident victims requiring treatment
for severe burn injuries are eventually transported to Twin Cities hospitals
Prior to the trip to the nearest burn center "...burn victims are
initially taken to a hospital in the Bakken. The staff assesses whether
the burns are severe enough to fly them to burn centers in the Twin Cities..."
After this initial evaluation the burn victim must still endure the journey
to the burn center, a minimum of 2 hours from any point in North Dakota.
The time lost to travel and the local hospital's initial evaluation
of injuries can negatively impact a patient's chances of significant
recovery "...since care administered in the first day factors into
burn patients’ long-term recovery." Once treatment at a burn
center does begin oil field burns are among the most painful and costly
to treat. An oil field worker's treatment at a burn unit can cost
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