2 - Qatar Critical Care Conference Proceedings
  • ISSN: 0253-8253
  • EISSN: 2227-0426


Debriefing after critical events is a well-known practice in medicine, utilized in both simulated and real-life situations. In addition to reviewing the medical aspects of the care, debriefing allows for examination of team performance and human factors involved in the event. Various methods, locations, and time intervals can be utilized to debrief to meet the team's needs. Some proven methods of debriefing include plus-delta, directive feedback, the Socratic Method, and advocacy and inquiry.1 Each method has its benefits and limitations and can be applied during various segments of a debriefing to achieve the debriefer's goals. These goals usually include identifying and addressing knowledge gaps, uncovering participants' beliefs and thought processes, reflecting on the team's performance, and synthesizing the information to improve future performance.2 Debriefing should be a planned follow-up to every critical event. This standardizes the process and expectation for teams to share their experiences and work towards an improved performance. The debriefing environment should be a safe space for team members to express their emotions while sharing successes and challenges without fear of repercussion or blame. Allowing team members to share their decision-making process and knowledge level lets the debriefer tailor learning points to address appropriate deficits rather than assuming and targeting areas that may not need improvement. In addition, involving team members from all involved disciplines can enhance the outcomes of the debriefing. There is evidence that handoffs with more team members can improve efficiency, documentation, and future patient outcomes.3 The timing of these debriefs can be varied based on the clinical scenario and even the emotional state of the team members. Immediately debriefing after an event, also known as the “hot” debrief, allows most team members to participate and capitalizes on a clear memory of events to identify successes and opportunities for improvement. In addition to performance improvements, these sessions may help team members express their emotions and offer some coping skills to deal with unfortunate outcomes including the death of a patient. However, sometimes the debriefer may assess the emotional state of the team and deem it not appropriate to conduct the debriefing immediately after the event. In these settings a delayed debriefing session, or “warm” or “cold” debrief, may allow team members to process their emotions and reflect on the clinical event prior to coming together as a group to discuss their performance.

Despite the well described benefits of debriefing, there continues to remain a disconnect between knowing to conduct debriefs and their actual implementation. This can be due to various circumstances including, time pressures, patient care, or limited training in how to debrief a team. These failures to debrief can lead to communication breakdowns within the team.4 The absence of a debriefing can also lead to improper or inadequate documentation, which can result in clinical error and increased litigation.5 Organizations such as the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality advocate for clinical event debriefing; this attention and effort on research and training can hopefully increase the frequency of and comfort with clinical event debriefing.


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  • Article Type: Conference Abstract
Keyword(s): critical caredebriefing and education
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