Outbreak debriefs

A post-outbreak review, or debrief, may be conducted at the request of any of the investigative partners. The overall objective of a debrief is to discuss the outbreak investigation and to identify processes that worked well and areas for improvement. Where possible, specific recommendations and action items to improve future investigations should be recorded and a person or organization should be responsible for following up on the progress of the debrief recommendations.

Debriefs are typically chaired by a member of the lead organization who did not participate in the outbreak response. In some cases, an expert from a jurisdiction not involved in the investigation could be invited to chair the call. Ideally, the outbreak debrief should take place as soon as possible after the conclusion of the outbreak.

Question 4-5: Who should be invited to a debrief? What sort of items should be discussed at a debrief?

Everyone involved in the outbreak investigation (e.g., members of an OICC or outbreak team) should have the opportunity to comment on what went well and what could be improved on for future investigations.

For each of the steps/issues below the following should be captured: what worked well, what could work better next time, and any recommendations.

  1. Initial stage of the outbreak (e.g., outbreak detection and surveillance systems, notification of partners)
  2. Outbreak Investigation Coordinating Committee (e.g., timely initial assessment and activation, clear roles and responsibilities, OICC calls – frequency, management, right participants)
  3. Describe and orient the data in person, place and time (e.g., epidemiologic summaries (clear, helpful, timely), line list, case definitions, sharing of epidemiologic data)
  4. Hypothesis generation/evaluation (e.g., developments of hypotheses (interviews, interaction with local/provincial partners), evaluation/refinement of hypotheses (review of hypothesis generating interviews, analytic study methodology, preparation, questionnaire development, implementation and interviewing, analysis))
  5. Food safety investigation – (traceback data, risk assessments, recalls, plant investigation, food/environmental sampling (e.g., right information shared (clear, timely), timely and effective recall(s))
  6. Communications (e.g., within OICC, public communications, internal documentation)
  7. Public Health Measures (e.g., what was done, implementation of control and prevention measures)
  8. Post-outbreak (e.g., declare outbreak over, closing OICC, debrief session, final report, Outbreak Summaries)
  9. Other issues?



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