Second Victim Syndrome

Second Victim Syndrome (SVS) is a phenomenon in healthcare providers defined as feelings of guilt, inadequacy or incompetence following an unexpected, negative patient outcome.  Providers often have anxiety, depression or shame following this negative patient outcome that go unrecognized and can contribute to burnout. Being aware that SVS occurs is critical for EM physicians so that we can develop strategies to lessen the effects of SVS in our careers.

Please complete the three assigned “reading” assignments for III credit prior to attending conference.   You can also take a look at the other resources below to help prepare you for our discussion. And finally, come to conference prepared to discuss the questions listed below.

Reading Assignments (III):

1. Read this article to better understand what second victim syndrome is.  (For more on this, go down to 2, 3 and 4 in other resources.)

2. Watch this video to hear an EM physician’s encounter with second victim syndrome.

3. Read this article on debriefing in the emergency department.

Other Resources: 

1.  Read about how one hospital has implemented a “Code Lavender”. 

2.  Read this article that established second victim syndrome almost 20 years ago.

3. Read this article by our own Dr. Wears on the aftermath of errors and adverse events in the emergency department. 

4. Watch this video for more on second victim syndrome.

Questions to Discuss in Conference:

  1. What is second victim syndrome?
  2. What are the stages of second victim syndrome?
  3. How have you seen debriefing be used or work while you’ve been in medicine?
  4. As attending physicians, you may be responsible for leading a debriefing with your team after an adverse event. How can you best debrief in the ED?