There has been no significant decrease in the mortality from major thermal burns in more than 30 years. Inanition and bacterial colonization and invasion of the burn wound, particularly by gram-negative organisms, are the two major causes of death, especially if those deaths that occur during the first 72 hours, (the period of "burn shock") are excluded. None of the antibiotics, no matter how they have been administered, has been consistently effective in suppressing bacterial growth on the burn wound.
The June issue of the Archives of Surgery1 includes a carefully documented communication reporting promising results, in terms of both mortality and morbidity, in the treatment of major thermal burns (covering 20% to 85% of the body surface) with the use of thick gauze dressings saturated with 0.5% silver nitrate solution and changed once or more daily. The wet dressing is designed to accomplish two things: (1) to impede
BURNS AND SILVER NITRATE. JAMA. 1965;193(3):230. doi:10.1001/jama.1965.03090030052016