District introduces simple tool for clinical team debriefs
As a medical intern Alice Pearlman had a harrowing experience.
“I was asked to review a patient on a respiratory ward who had a persistent cough.
“I was chatting with them and all of a sudden the patient went from coughing to coughing up blood and then subsequently died in my arms. It was incredibly traumatic,” she said.
Dr Pearlman was badly affected by the ordeal.
She was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress syndrome. With the support of family and friends she slowly regained her confidence over the following 12-months.
Now a Basic Physician Trainee, her experience led her to collaborate with MDOK – Sydney Local Health District’s program which supports the wellbeing of junior doctors – to design a debriefing toolkit for clinicians.
The R.E.S.E.T Clinical Debrief Tool provides a simple framework to facilitate a reflective, multidisciplinary team debrief at the end of a shift or following a significant event.
“Alice’s experience is neither unusual nor uncommon. Many of us who have been in clinical practice for some time have our own versions of those kind of events,” Dr Sam Bendall, an Emergency Physician at RPA and one of the Deputy Directors of MDOK, said.
“The intent of the R.E.S.E.T Clinical Debrief Tool is to make it easier for everyone to be able to be involved in team debrief after a critical incident,” Dr Bendall said.
Using the R.E.S.E.T tool requires creating a psychologically safe environment for those involved by normalising, empathising and validating the emotions and reactions in the team.
Then a senior clinician facilitates a short discussion with the clinicians and other staff involved using the R.E.S.E.T acronym.
Recall – what happened
Emotions – how clinicians are feeling now
Success – what went well
Evolve – what can be learned
Takeaway – what will they take away from the experience
If anyone is still struggling at the end of the R.E.S.E.T, they are offered further support by the team, senior clinicians or EAP.
The R.E.S.E.T Clinical Debrief Tool was developed in consultation with Nickolas Yu, who runs the District’s Staff Wellness and Compassionate Care program and Chris Patchett who manages the District’s Employee Assistance Program.
For Alice, it’s a significant step forward.
“I think it’s important to be able to discuss the scenario and the different options with medical staff, medical students and nursing staff. It’s about addressing the events. I feel very passionate about it,” she said.
The R.E.S.E.T Clinical Debrief Toolkit, which includes a training video, detailed guides and lanyards, is being distributed to clinicians across the District.
“We hope the R.E.S.E.T tool will help to save our heads and our hearts and to cope with the nature of the work that we do,” Dr Bendall said.
For more information, please contact SLHD-MDOK@health.nsw.gov.au