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Second Victims: Support for Clinicians Involved in Errors and Adverse Events

Background

Multiple studies have shown that involvement in medical errors and adverse events can take a significant toll on clinicians. It is estimated that one in seven patients is affected by adverse events, and that as many as half of all clinicians will be involved in a serious adverse event at least once during their career. When a medical error or patient harm occurs, the first priority is to attend to the patient and family members. However, Seys and colleagues and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement have identified three levels at which damage from errors and adverse events occur: the patient, clinicians, and health care organizations. This primer addresses clinician responses to involvement in errors and adverse events, along with support that can be put in place to respond when such involvement occurs.

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