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1. Introduction

The ERNST COST Action CA19113 Mission
Patient Safety is a priority in Europe. However, every year between 8 and 12% of people admitted to hospitals and around 6% of those in primary care suffer from an adverse event (AE) while receiving healthcare. When an AE occurs, there is a secondary effect on healthcare professionals (the second victims) who suffer from the knowledge of having harmed their patients (the first victims). This second victim phenomenon increases the likelihood of further errors and suboptimal care as the second victim suffers emotional and physical disturbances following the patient safety event.

The overall aim of this Action is to facilitate discussion and development of scientific knowledge, perspectives, legislation, policies, and best practices concerning AEs in healthcare institutions in order to implement joint efforts to support second victims, and to introduce an open dialogue and discussion among stakeholders about the consequences of the second victim phenomenon based on a cross-national collaboration that integrates different disciplines and approaches, including legal, educational, professional, and socio-economic perspectives.

This Action will yield innovative solutions through enhancing our understanding of decision-making after patient safety events while caring for the care provider as a prerequisite for safety and quality of care, promoting debate among stakeholders involved in the understanding of clinical errors, creating new approaches to break the taboo around mistakes, enriching our knowledge of the factors that might contribute to transparency after mistakes, capturing the multi-dimensionality of the second victim phenomenon, and proposing recommendations and interventions useful for the European countries and overseas.

Document Purpose
This document outlines the steps required to launch and maintain a streamlined, centralized, and peer review protected Peer Support program at your institution. Peer Support is “emotional first aid” for healthcare providers who are involved in unanticipated adverse patient events, medical errors, or other stressful situations encountered through patient care. Providers involved in such events are often referred to as Second Victims, as they suffer significant emotional, physical, cognitive, and behavioral sequelae in the aftermath of such events. Peer Support is an effective tool in helping staff successfully manage difficult situations, increase resiliency, and decrease burnout.

Document Scope
This guide is meant to provide a generic framework for implementing a Peer Support program at your institution. The framework can be applicable to healthcare institutions of various sizes, settings, and specialties. Certain aspects of the guide will need to be customized based on your institution’s particular needs, goals, and resources. Please also consider your local cultures, legal framework, and professional liability laws when implementing this guide.

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