Health care workers as second victims of medical errors.
Approach to Improving Safety
Setting of Care
Medical errors can have a devastating impact on patients but also place providers—called the second victims—at risk for emotional distress, decreased job satisfaction, and burnout. This study explores the second victim phenomenon, describes current approaches for addressing the emotional impact, and shares survey findings from participants who attended a session on the topic. Respondents expressed the need for informal emotional support and peer support as key coping strategies. The authors offer suggested things to say (and not to say) in providing such support, and emphasize the importance of necessary structures for second victims while building a culture of safety within hospitals. A past AHRQ WebM&M commentary discusses the impact of committing a medical error.