• Commentary
  • Published May 2018

A multi-stakeholder consensus-driven research agenda for better understanding and supporting the emotional impact of harmful events on patients and families.

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Preventable harm can inflict lasting emotional damage on patients and families. Although many safety experts have examined how adverse events affect health care workers (second victims), patients' emotional experience of these events has garnered less scientific attention. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality convened diverse stakeholders, including patients, to identify research priorities to better elucidate how adverse events emotionally impact patients and families. They identified 4 priorities and delineated 20 steps organizations can take immediately to support those who experience adverse events, such as involving patients and families in developing solutions, incorporating emotional harm in organizational approaches to safety, and engaging patient advocates and leaders in improvement work. An Annual Perspective examined the shift toward a just culture in patient safety, which requires reckoning with the impact of errors on patients and families.

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