CanadiEM Frontline Primer

CanadiEM Frontline Primer – Clinical Debriefing (“Hot Debrief”)

In Medical Concepts by Priyank BhatnagarLeave a Comment

Points to Focus upon

  • “Hot Debriefs” are clinical debriefs that occur right after a high acuity situation. As a physician who has been redeployed to the ED there will be a vast amount of knowledge you will have to review and sift through. Running a debrief will allow you to review protocols and bounce ideas off members of the team who are involved in resuscitations on a daily basis.
  • If you are running the resuscitation you should focus on that. To assist with debriefing, consider offloading some of the cognitive load by assigning the role of Debriefing Leader to someone else, whether it be a nursing colleague or a trainee. Recent literature has suggested that the Charge Nurse may also be a great resource for running hot debriefs​1​.
  • It is of the utmost importance in the context of appropriate PPE and protecting your team when taking care of COVID-19 positive patients
  • Debriefing after protected airway or protected resuscitation
  • May be useful in a number of contexts (e.g. ED, ICU, CCU, or other inpatient wards)
  • The ideal hot debrief format is ideal for debriefing after COVID-19 resuscitations as it allows for immediate impressions and modifications can be put in place for the following critical event

An Approach to “Hot Debriefing”

  1. Establish the Framework for the Debrief
  2. Basic Assumption
  3. Discuss Successes
  4. Discuss Challenges
  5. Assess Prevention of Incident
  6. Consider a Cold Debrief
  7. Summary

Recommended Reading, Videos, and Podcasts

The following is part of the CanadiEM Frontline Primer. An introduction to the primer can be found here. To return to the Primer content overview click here.

This post was edited by Dr. Teresa Chan MD FRCPC DRCPSC. This post was copyedited and uploaded by Johnny Huang.


  1. 1.
    Rose S, Cheng A. Charge nurse facilitated clinical debriefing in the emergency department. CJEM. 2018;20(5):781-785. doi:10.1017/cem.2018.369

Priyank Bhatnagar

Dr. Priyank Bhatnagar is an FRCPC Emergency Medicine resident at the University of Toronto. His interests include medical education, geriatrics EM and global health. When not in scrubs, he's likely scrounging for a budget travel deal (pre-COVID)

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Arthur Welsher

Arthur is an Emergency Medicine resident at the University of Toronto. His interests include medical education and simulation.

Alia Dharamsi

Alia Dharamsi is an Emergency Physician at the UHN and St Michael’s Hospital in Toronto. Her interests include simulation, prehospital medicine, and educational innovation. In her spare time you can find her on her bike, in the lake, or on a mountain!