Aim: This study assessed the impact of a scripted, post-event debriefing tool in identifying logistical, procedural, personnel and performance obstacles and successes in a clinical setting. It was predicted that the debriefing tool would highlight the importance of routine debriefing following challenging clinical events.

Method: The study was conducted in a 22 bed Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at a tertiary hospital and involved all staff members in the perinatal service. The debriefing tool, a two-page form providing a structured, scripted approach, was used at the earliest opportunity after acute clinical deteriorations, emergency caesarean sections and any other critical events as decided by the neonatal team. Sessions were facilitated by either a nursing or medical member of the neonatal team. Following a two-month trial, impact was measured via comparison of before and after survey questions as well as review of a database of issues raised, subsequent actions and outcomes.

Results: Significant, positive changes were observed for survey questions specific to the frequency of debriefing, team communication, provision of learning opportunities and identification of logistical, equipment and procedural issues. Additionally, the database highlighted the significant positive impact in day-to-day practice as a result of changes initiated by the debriefing tool. All participants requested that the unit continue using the tool.

Conclusion: Scripted, post-event debriefing is achievable and valuable in the clinical setting. It encourages a supportive workplace culture and empowers team members to initiate practical change in their organisations.


communication, quality improvement, clinical governance, crisis intervention, patient care team

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