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PSNet: Patient Safety Network
Journal Article

Increased risk of burnout for physicians and nurses involved in a patient safety incident.

Van Gerven E, Elst TV, Vandenbroeck S, et al. Med Care. 2016;54(10):937-943.

Clinicians who are involved in an adverse event often experience significant emotional consequences, leading to the term "second victim." This survey of physicians and nurses in Belgium examined the relationship between involvement in an error in the past 6 months and clinicians' emotional state, risk of engaging in high-risk behaviors, and work–life balance. Involvement in an error was strongly correlated with burnout, potentially harmful medication use, and plans to leave the health care field. The cross-sectional nature of the study makes it difficult to discern causality, and other studies show that burnout increases the risk of committing an error. Nevertheless, this study adds to a growing body of literature demonstrating that errors have long-lasting harmful effects for clinicians. A qualitative study explored how clinicians recover from being involved in errors, and a WebM&M commentary describes ways that organizations can help clinicians in the recovery process.