In this issue of The Journal appears an article describing with enthusiasm an apparent improvement in the treatment of burns with heparin sodium. The concept is not new, as the authors point out. Burns and cold injury both have a thrombotic element in the perpetuation of tissue damage. The judicious use of an anticoagulant should help in treatment. The hazards of anticoagulants are equally evident because there is also a hemorrhagic element in the tissue damage. This might be made worse by an anticoagulant. Certain complications of burns, such as bleeding gastritis or gastroduodenal ulcer, would certainly be made more hazardous to the patient. The authors have discussed these various aspects and report that the general effect is desirable and helpful to the patient.
The hazards of presenting such an article as this, in the general literature, go far beyond these technical or pharmacologic details. They relate, instead, to the
Moore FD. Reflections on New Treatments for Burns—Caveat Legor. JAMA. 1973;225(3):294–295. doi:10.1001/jama.1973.03220300050012