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March 7, 1986

Caring for the Burned: Life and Death in a Hospital Burn Center

JAMA. 1986;255(9):1203-1204. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03370090129043

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James M. Mannon, PhD, has produced a precise and focused sociological exposition of the operation of a burn unit. It was achieved after careful observation of the activities on such a ward and many weeks and months of interviewing physicians, nurses, physical therapists, and social workers, as well as patients and their relatives. He intended to learn as much as he could about the "social world of burn recovery... from the viewpoint of the participants," and he has generally achieved this goal.

There is little of the dramatic in his writing. His attitude toward the caretakers is rather critical. For example, Mannon feels that patients in pain could complain only in limited ways that did not annoy other patients or disrupt the functioning or professional calm of the staff. He also gives illustrations of staff members threatening patients to induce them to comply with treatment with remarks like, "Eat or