Scientific letters

Treatment of paediatric burns with a nanocrystalline silver dressing compared with standard wound care in a burns unit: A cost analysis

S G Cox, L Cullingworth, H Rode


Burns are a leading cause of non-natural death in South African infants and children. Conventional care of partial-thickness burns often requires painful, time consuming and costly twice-daily dressing changes to clean the wound and apply antimicrobial topical agents. A new topical nanocrystalline silver-coated NS dressing (Acticoat; Smith & Nephew) has been developed and is the first-line treatment of choice in many burn centres. However, because of its cost the Department of Health has been reluctant to introduce it as a standard of care.
We retrospectively studied 4 randomly selected paediatric burn patients, calculating the cost associated with the use of NS dressings and comparing this with the projected costs of three previously standard burn wound treatment regimens. NS dressings were changed every 3 days based on their sustained and slow release of silver ions over 72 hours. Using NS clearly saved costs compared with the three other regimens. The demonstrated cost savings resulted primarily from the decreased number of dressings, and the presumed shorter hospital stay.

Authors' affiliations

S G Cox, Red Cross Children's Hospital

L Cullingworth, 3 Degree Clinical Research and Consulting

H Rode, University of Cape Town

Full Text



Burns; Costs

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2011;101(10):728,730-731.

Article History

Date submitted: 2011-05-11
Date published: 2011-09-27

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