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2. What is Peer Support?

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 provided by Peer Supporters — fellow colleagues who have been specially trained to effectively support their colleagues through difficult times. Peer Supporters have “been in your shoes”; they are in similar roles, and understand, empathize, and have knowledge to share. They provide a compassionate listening ear, coping skills, and resource information for additional support and/or treatment.

Peer Support is timely, nonjudgmental, and strictly confidential. It is a voluntary resource; a staff member is under no obligation to speak to a Peer Supporter. Peer Support is designed to support Peer Review Protection; any discussion with a Peer Supporter should not be included in any safety report summary, investigation, or Quality review.

In this document, the provider involved in an adverse event, or the Second Victim, will often be referred to as the Peer. This is the individual who receives Peer Support from Peer Supporters.

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