Supporting Second Victims

From The Joint Commission, Division of Healthcare Improvement, Issue 39, January 2018

Physicians can become a second victim in adverse patient events.

When a patient suffers an adverse event, many people are affected — the patient, his or her family, and the health care providers. The provider most directly involved in the event becomes the “second victim.” While the patient’s and family’s needs become the priority for the health care organization, the provider may be emotionally traumatized by the event, and have lasting effects that persist for months or years afterward. 1 If not treated, a second victim experience can harm the emotional and physical health of the individual and subsequently compromise patient safety.

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