Involvement in medical errors and adverse events can take a significant toll on clinicians, with as many as half of all clinicians estimated to be involved in a serious adverse event at least once during their career, according to a new primer posted on Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s Patient Safety Network.
The primer, “Support for Clinicians Involved in Errors and Adverse Events (Second Victims),” addresses clinician responses to their involvement in errors and adverse events while offering resources to respond to such events.
When a medical error or patient harm occurs, the first priority is to attend to the patient and family members.
However, damage from errors and adverse events can occur at three levels: patient, clinician, and health care organization. The primer describes six stages of recovery for clinicians following an adverse event. This distress is known as the “second victim” phenomenon, a term coined by patient safety expert Albert Wu, MD, MPH, to express how clinicians themselves feel wounded by the event.