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The Second Victim Phenomenon in the UCSD Healthcare System: A Survey Based Assessment


The term second victim was first coined by Albert W. Wu, M.D. in 2000 to describe the population of healthcare workers who are affected by the inherent adversity of their work.1 Susan D. Scott, R.N., M.S.N., a leading researcher in this area and founder of the for YOU Team at the University of Missouri Medical Center,2 defines “second victim” as a healthcare provider involved in an unanticipated adverse patient event or outcome, medical error, malpractice suit, or other stressful event who becomes “victimized” in the sense that the provider suffers emotional trauma.3 In a recent systematic review of 32 research articles and 9 non-research articles Seys and coworkers found a prevalence of second victims following an adverse event ranging from 10.4% to 43.3% in the healthcare employee populations examined.4 The second victim phenomenon appears to be common, largely hidden, and found in all hospitals and medical groups in which an effort is made to identify it.

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