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Supporting Clinicians After Adverse Events: Development of a Clinician Peer Support Program.



Many healthcare organizations have developed processes for supporting the emotional needs of patients and their families after medical errors or adverse events. However, the clinicians involved in such events may become "second victims" and frequently experience emotional harm that impacts their personal and professional lives. Many "second victims," particularly physicians, do not receive adequate support by their organizations.


A multidisciplinary team was assembled to create a clinician peer support program (PSP) at a large academic medical center including both adult and pediatric hospitals. A curriculum was developed to train clinicians to provide support to their peers based on research of clinician response to adverse events, utilization of various support resources, and clinician resiliency and ways to enhance natural resilience. Between April 2014 and January 2017, 165 individuals were referred to the program including 68 (41.2%) residents, 17 (10.3%) fellows, 70 (42.4%) faculty members, 6 (3.6%) nurse practitioners/physician assistants, and 4 (2.4%) certified registered nurse anesthetists. An average of 4.8 individuals were referred per month (range = 0-12). Of the 165 clinicians referred, 17 (10.3%) declined follow-up from the program. Individuals receiving support had a median of two interactions (range = 1-10). Among those receiving support from the clinician PSP, 16 (10.8%) required referral to a higher level of support.


We describe the multiple steps necessary to create a successful PSP focused on physicians and midlevel providers. There is an unmet need to provide support to this group of healthcare providers after medical errors and adverse events.

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