Repeated exposure to death and dying increases health care professionals’ risk for burnout and secondary traumatic stress. Pediatric critical care providers are at particularly high risk because the death and dying of children are associated with even greater psychological impact.

Local Problem

A charge nurse in the pediatric intensive care unit identified a need for additional staff support after critical patient events.


The aim of this quality improvement project was to design and implement a debriefing process, the Rapid Review of Resuscitation, in a 40-bed, high-acuity pediatric intensive care unit at an urban children’s hospital in the midwestern United States. A preintervention-postintervention survey used the Professional Quality of Life Scale, version 5, to evaluate staff members’ compassion satisfaction, burnout, and secondary traumatic stress before and 1 year after implementation. The debriefing process was designed and implemented on the basis of interview data and literature review.


Preimplementation (104 of 222 staff members [47%]) and postimplementation (72 of 184 staff members [39%]) survey responses were compared. Compassion satisfaction scores (mean [SD] T scores: preimplementation, 54.10 [7.52]; postimplementation, 56.71 [6.62]) were significantly higher (P = .02) 1 year after implementation. Burnout (P = .69) and secondary traumatic stress (P = .06) scores were not significantly different. After implementation, 74% of respondents reported that the debriefing process was “very helpful” or “somewhat helpful” after critical patient events.


Compassion satisfaction improved and burnout and secondary traumatic stress did not change with implementation of the debriefing process after critical patient events.

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