The Importance of Burns

J. H. Burn
1950 BMJ (Clinical Research Edition)  
This book is an account of the author's very important work demonstrating how to minimize the effects and reduce the mortality due to burns and scalds. The study began in Glasgow and was then continued in the Birmingham Accident Hospital. From 1945-8, among 490 burns and scalds treated at that hospital the death rate was only 2.7%. This is a striking contrast to the rate of 26% recorded in London in the early days of this century. The points in treatment on which Dr. Colebrook lays stress are
more » ... k lays stress are the avoidance of haemoconcentration by giving plasma at once and the elimination of sepsis. Not only is the elimination of sepsis important because it reduces mortality, but also because it saves unnecessary pain. His experience has shown that " all the misery of burned people in the past was due to inflammation." If sepsis is avoided early skin grafting becomes possible, and in this way the stay in hospital and the period of incapacity can be reduced by 50%. Dr. Colebrook points out"however, that these objects can be attained only by a complete recasting of arrangements for dealing with these difficult cases. He therefore proposes that centres for the treatment of burns should be established, and he then proceeds to describe in detail how these centres can be organized and what staff is required to man them. His proposals are put forward cogently, but it is possible to read between the lines that he thinks little attention will be paid to them. We are slow in this country to adopt improvements which involve changes in organization, as, for example, in the management of operatingtheatres for the elimination of sepsis there. We refuse to be moved by early enthusiasm, and when the enthusiasm has cooled we fold our hands in resignation. Dr. Colebrook has made a most important contribution to medical treatment. His book should be read by all, for it demonstrates what contributions can be made by the investigator who shows how scientific knowledge can be applied in practice.
doi:10.1136/bmj.2.4669.26 fatcat:jmhodjkajnbvdfizay5pdbhj7e