Improving Burn Team Resilience

Carl Horsley2, Miss Yvonne Singer1

1Victorian Adult Burns Service, The Alfred, , , 2Critical Care Complex, Middlemore Hospital, ,


Modern acute burn care has the hallmarks of a complex adaptive system. Patient care on any day is in a state of flux, influenced by multiple inter-related factors. These include the variability of patients and their injuries, the skill set and relationships of the clinical team on shift, the acuity and workload, and team and organizational culture.

Burn care therefore sits at the junction of urgency and complexity, requiring burn teams to make time critical decisions in the setting of uncertainty. Risks and hazards abound, and staff are constantly responding to the needs to the patients and the wider system, balancing competing goals and priorities.

Therefore, patient safety, rather than being the natural state of our systems, is something that burns teams must create together every day. However, this daily work, and how it is achieved, remains largely unseen and unvalued by current patient safety efforts which are instead focussed on responding to adverse outcomes and near misses.

Steeped in Safety-II principles, this presentation will examine how our people and teams are the key resource required to navigate the complexity of the burn care we provide. It will explore how to build “team resilience”, the capacity of the team to constantly adjust performance to achieve their goals, even when the unexpected happens. It will share proactive strategies to help build diverse, adaptable teams that can respond flexibly to dynamic work demands, and progress the new aim of safety: that “as much as possible goes right”.


Bio to come


ANZBA is a not for profit organisation and the peak body for health professionals responsible for the care of the burn injured in Australia and New Zealand. ANZBA encourages higher standards of care through education, performance monitoring and research.

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