High Adherence to Early Allied Health Assessment Observed in Australian and New Zealand Burn Services

Burn injuries are a leading cause of morbidity due to prolonged hospitalisation, disfigurement, and disability. Within Australia and New Zealand, burn clinicians have adopted a biopsychosocial model of care and strongly advocate for multidisciplinary care as the gold standard in burn injury management. Appropriate and early allied health involvement positively influences burn recovery and long-term quality of life.

A recent study using data from the Burns Registry of Australia and New Zealand (BRANZ) reveals an extremely high level of adherence to desired allied health assessments in the early stages of a hospital admission.

Researchers analysed admissions data for more than 5,000 adult patients admitted to a specialist burn service for more than 48 hours between July 2016 and June 2020. The focused on three allied health assessments patients should receive during the first 48 hours of their stay:

  • A physical functioning assessment (performed by a physiotherapist or occupational therapist);
  • A malnutrition risk screening assessment; and
  • A psychosocial risk screening assessment.

Ninety-seven percent of patients received at least one of the three allied health assessments within 48 hours of admission, while 69% received all three assessments. Patients who received all three assessments had sustained more severe injuries compared to their counterparts who received fewer assessments. In particular, a greater proportion of patients had a burn affecting more than 20% of their body, had full thickness burns, and had inhalation injuries.

Importantly, only three percent of patients did not receive any of the three allied health assessments in the early stages of their admission. A greater proportion of patients who did not receive any assessments were admitted on a Saturday. Inadequate or inconsistent allied health staffing on weekends may explain these findings, but further investigation is required.

These findings show multidisciplinary allied health teams provide a high level of care to patients admitted to specialist burn services across Australia and New Zealand. Allied health input appears to be prioritised towards patients with more severe injuries, highlighting the importance of early rehabilitation in these patients.

Read the full paper, “Adherence with early allied health assessments in specialist burn services”, published in the Journal of Burn Care & Research here.