Development and implementation of an end-of-shift clinical debriefing method for emergency departments during COVID-19

Adv Simul (Lond). 2020 Nov 11;5(1):32. doi: 10.1186/s41077-020-00150-0.


Background: Multiple guidelines recommend debriefing after clinical events in the emergency department (ED) to improve performance, but their implementation has been limited. We aimed to start a clinical debriefing program to identify opportunities to address teamwork and patient safety during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Methods: We reviewed existing literature on best-practice guidelines to answer key clinical debriefing program design questions. An end-of-shift huddle format for the debriefs allowed multiple cases of suspected or confirmed COVID-19 illness to be discussed in the same session, promoting situational awareness and team learning. A novel ED-based clinical debriefing tool was implemented and titled Debriefing In Situ COVID-19 to Encourage Reflection and Plus-Delta in Healthcare After Shifts End (DISCOVER-PHASE). A facilitator experienced in simulation debriefings would facilitate a short (10-25 min) discussion of the relevant cases by following a scripted series of stages for debriefing. Data on the number of debriefing opportunities, frequency of utilization of debriefing, debriefing location, and professional background of the facilitator were analyzed.

Results: During the study period, the ED treated 3386 suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 11 deaths and 77 ICU admissions. Of the 187 debriefing opportunities in the first 8-week period, 163 (87.2%) were performed. Of the 24 debriefings not performed, 21 (87.5%) of these were during the four first weeks (21/24; 87.5%). Clinical debriefings had a median duration of 10 min (IQR 7-13). They were mostly facilitated by a nurse (85.9%) and mainly performed remotely (89.8%).

Conclusion: Debriefing with DISCOVER-PHASE during the COVID-19 pandemic were performed often, were relatively brief, and were most often led remotely by a nurse facilitator. Future research should describe the clinical and organizational impact of this DISCOVER-PHASE.

Keywords: COVID-19; Clinical event debriefing; Communication; Implementation; Quality; Safety.