An after-action review tool for EDs: learning from mass casualty incidents

Am J Emerg Med. 2013 May;31(5):798-802. doi: 10.1016/j.ajem.2013.01.025. Epub 2013 Mar 6.


Background: Conducting a thorough after-action review (AAR) process is an important component in improving preparedness for mass casualty incidents (MCIs).

Purposes: The study aimed to develop a structured AAR tool for use by medical teams in emergency departments after an MCI and to identify the best possible procedure for its conduct.

Basic procedures: On the basis of knowledge acquired from an extensive literature review, a structured tool for conducting an AAR in the emergency department was developed. A modified Delphi process was conducted to achieve content validity of the tool, involving 48 medical professionals from all 6 level I trauma centers in Israel. The AAR tool was tested during a simulated MCI drill.

Main findings: All experts support the conduct of an AAR in the ED after an MCI to build and maintain capacity for an adequate emergency response. More than 80% agreement was achieved regarding 14 components that were implemented in the proposed AAR tool. Ninety-four percent perceived that AARs should be conducted within 24 hours from the event using both written reports and face-to-face discussions. Both physicians and nurses should participate. The incident manager should lead the AAR, limiting the time allocated for each speaker and for the AAR in whole.

Principle conclusions: Conducting a structured AAR in all emergency departments after an MCI facilitates both learning lessons regarding the function of the medical staff and ventilation of feelings, thus mitigating anxieties and expediting a speedy return to normalcy.

MeSH terms

  • Delphi Technique
  • Disaster Planning* / methods
  • Disaster Planning* / organization & administration
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Israel
  • Learning
  • Mass Casualty Incidents*
  • Patient Care Team / organization & administration