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The control of burn wound sepsis

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This presentation reviews the course of burn wound sepsis in a group of 621 acute patients treated at the Shriners Burns Institute, Cincinnati Unit, between 1970 and 1976. During this period of time, the overall mortality rate fell from 14% in 1970 to 3 and 5%, respectively, in 1975 and 1976.

Staphylococcus aureus was the most commonly recovered organism from the burn wound, colonizing 85% of the burn patients. Beta hemolytic streptococcus represented a potential threat despite the fact that it was recovered from only 5 to 10% of the patients.Pseudomonas aeruginosa showed a decrease in colonization during the period of this study, from 50% of the wounds in 1970 to 21% in 1976.Candida albicans was the fungal organism most commonly recovered from the burn wound and from the blood stream. Fifteen deaths occurred in this group as a result of invasive infection, one fromS. aureus, five fromP. aeruginosa, two fromKlebsiella-Enterobacter, and one fromEscherichia coli, as well as six fungal deaths, five fromCandida albicans and one from mucormycosis. Therapeutic measures used to control burn wound sepsis consisted of prevention of contamination from exogenous sources, control of burn wound pathogens, early recognition of invasive burn wound sepsis, aggressive management of the burn wound, and optimal nutritional support. During this period the extent of burn associated with a survival of 50% has risen from 50% in 1970 to 80% in 1976. This improvement in survival is directly related to progressive improvement in local and systemic measures available for the control of infection.

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MacMillan, B.G. The control of burn wound sepsis. Intensive Care Med 7, 63–69 (1981). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01687262

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Key words

  • Burns
  • Sepsis
  • Control