In this episode, Dr Caraline Wright and Dr Lizzie Sweeting discuss the second victim phenomenon. They explain why patient safety incidents are occupational hazards and how they can affect healthcare providers. Finally, they share tips on how to avoid second victimhood and how to provide support.
[04:31] What is a Second Victim?
A second victim is a healthcare provider who becomes traumatised due to an unanticipated adverse patient event.
[05:33] How Patient Safety Relates to Second Victimhood
Up to 50% of healthcare system staff can be second victims.
They can experience a range of effects, from acute stress to suicidal ideation.
[06:59] Determining Second Victimhood
The shame and guilt from a patient safety incident differ from the distress and fatigue from normal workplace pressures.
[10:17] Caraline’s Experience with Second Victimhood
She oversaw a man with a long history of depression and alcoholism.
He got better, so she reduced the frequency of his appointments.
Shortly after, he patient committed suicide.
Over the next 6-12 months, she struggled with trauma, avoidance, guilt, and anxiety.
[14:37] Post-Second Victimhood
Second victims tend to shift to a defensive practice or leave the career altogether.
Shame also hinders them from sharing their experience.
[21:52] How to React to Patient Safety Incidents
Know that patient safety incidents are occupational hazards.
Organisations must provide quick and appropriate responses.
[28:44] How to Support Second Victims
Listen with fascination. Just let them talk and explain, even if you’ve not felt like that yourself.
Let them know that lots of people feel the same way.
[34:06] Lizzie and Caraline’s Message About Second Victimhood
Don’t be afraid to share your story, as it can be valuable to others.
Having one another to talk things through can be helpful.
[35:59] The Impact of COVID-19 on Second Victimhood
Working remotely has caused us to become removed from one another, as we can’t create connections as well.
However, with effort, we can still create spaces online.