Whenever there's an adverse event or medical error in health care, clinicians are affected, too. As organizations develop more accountable and transparent ways to interact with families and patients who've been harmed, the emotional and professional needs of doctors, nurses, and staff – whether directly or indirectly involved in an incident – also need to be addressed. In a 2000 essay in the BMJ, Dr. Albert Wu coined the phrase “the second victim” to put a face to the health care personnel facing loss of confidence and isolation in the aftermath of a tragic event. Now, a decade later, Dr. Wu's courage in naming a problem and his willingness to openly discuss the “private hell” that can beset even the most talented caregivers have helped many hospitals and health care organizations acknowledge the needs of their staff and create systems to support them.
Listen to the IHI podcast, "Adverse Events and Their Aftermath: SOS from Clinicians," featuring our own Linda Kenney, Dr. Albert Wu, and Sue Scott from the University of Missouri forYOU Team (2009 MITSS HOPE Award winner). Also, check out the resources from this important program. Just click here and scroll down to the program on SOS for Clinicians.