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Emerg Med Australas. 2009 Dec;21(6):479-83. doi: 10.1111/j.1742-6723.2009.01231.x.

Debriefing critical incidents in the paediatric emergency department: current practice and perceived needs in Australia and New Zealand.

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Emergency Department, Royal Children's Hospital, Flemington Road, Parkville, Vic. 3052, Australia.


Anecdotally critical incident debriefing (CID) is an important topic for staff in paediatric ED. The present study aimed to determine current baseline CID practices and perceived needs of ED staff. A questionnaire regarding CID practice was circulated to all 13 Paediatric Research in Emergency Departments International Collaborative (PREDICT) sites in Australia and New Zealand (including all tertiary paediatric ED), and completed by 1 senior doctor and 1 senior nurse. All PREDICT sites participated (13 nurses, 13 doctors). Seventy per cent did not currently have a hospital protocol on debriefing and 90% did not have ED-specific guidelines. The most commonly debriefed topics were death of a patient, multi-trauma and sudden infant death syndrome, also ranked highest in importance for debriefing. The median reported debriefs per department were 4 per year (range 0-12), all conducted within a week of the CI with half within 24 h. ED workers most likely to be invited to the CID session were doctors, nurses and social workers (96%). Debriefing was mostly conducted internally (62%) and most likely facilitated by a doctor (81%) or nurse (54%). Debriefing addressed both clinical and emotional issues (89%) within the same session (69%). Debriefing was rated as very important, median of 8/10 by doctors and 10/10 by nurses. Almost 90% of those surveyed indicated that they would like a CID programme and guidelines for their department. Debriefing is perceived as important by senior ED clinicians, yet few ED have formalized guidelines or programmes. Best-practice guidelines should be developed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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