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Open Access The utilisation of a structured debriefing framework within the pre-hospital environment: a service evaluation

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Background: Debriefing improves care and reduces error. To be effective, debriefs should be facilitated by trained individuals utilising structured and validated tools. Currently, in UK ambulance services there is no published evidence that structured processes utilising validated tools are being consistently delivered by trained facilitators, potentially impacting clinical practice.

Methods: A pre-intervention survey related to debriefing was sent to 1000 clinicians within a specific geographical area of the trust via e-mail. In addition, 12 senior or advanced paramedics were recruited from the same area to participate in a training day and 12-week trial, utilising the Debrief Diamond as part of post-event debriefing. Following the trial period, all facilitators and participants of any recorded debriefs were invited to complete a post-intervention survey.

Results: A total of 130 staff responded to the pre-intervention survey, with 22% reporting that previous debriefs had not identified areas for learning, and 13% reporting that previous debriefs had not identified good practice, learning opportunities or near misses. Post-intervention, 89% believed the process of debriefing was improved utilising a structured framework, 85% stated trained individuals improved the process, 93% reported the identification of good practice, 70% identified team level learning and 100% of facilitators reported improvements in identifying and supporting learning.

Conclusion: Improvements in identifying good practice and learning opportunities were reported by both clinicians and facilitators in this evaluation, reflecting current evidence that structured and facilitated debriefs support safer care through the identification and subsequent reduction of human error. Consequently, the evaluation of appropriate debrief frameworks to provide consistency and validity to clinical debriefs in the pre-hospital environment should be considered to support safer clinical care.
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Keywords: clinical error; debrief; human factors; pre-hospital; team dynamics

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2018

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