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This article has been peer reviewed. It is the author’s final published version in Western Journal of Emergency Medicine

Volume 18, Issue 1, January 2017, Pages 146-151.

The published version is available at DOI: 10.5811/westjem.2016.10.31467. Copyright © Nadir et al.


INTRODUCTION: Benefits of post-simulation debriefings as an educational and feedback tool have been widely accepted for nearly a decade. Real-time, non-critical incident debriefing is similar to post-simulation debriefing; however, data on its practice in academic emergency departments (ED), is limited. Although tools such as TeamSTEPPS® (Team Strategies and Tools to Enhance Performance and Patient Safety) suggest debriefing after complicated medical situations, they do not teach debriefing skills suited to this purpose. Anecdotal evidence suggests that real-time debriefings (or non-critical incident debriefings) do in fact occur in academic EDs;, however, limited research has been performed on this subject. The objective of this study was to characterize real-time, non-critical incident debriefing practices in emergency medicine (EM).

METHODS: We conducted this multicenter cross-sectional study of EM attendings and residents at four large, high-volume, academic EM residency programs in New York City. Questionnaire design was based on a Delphi panel and pilot testing with expert panel. We sought a convenience sample from a potential pool of approximately 300 physicians across the four sites with the goal of obtaining >100 responses. The survey was sent electronically to the four residency list-serves with a total of six monthly completion reminder emails. We collected all data electronically and anonymously using; the data were then entered into and analyzed with Microsoft Excel.

RESULTS: The data elucidate various characteristics of current real-time debriefing trends in EM, including its definition, perceived benefits and barriers, as well as the variety of formats of debriefings currently being conducted.

CONCLUSION: This survey regarding the practice of real-time, non-critical incident debriefings in four major academic EM programs within New York City sheds light on three major, pertinent points: 1) real-time, non-critical incident debriefing definitely occurs in academic emergency practice; 2) in general, real-time debriefing is perceived to be of some value with respect to education, systems and performance improvement; 3) although it is practiced by clinicians, most report no formal training in actual debriefing techniques. Further study is needed to clarify actual benefits of real-time/non-critical incident debriefing as well as details on potential pitfalls of this practice and recommendations for best practices for use.