Colorado Nurse's Suicide Draws Attention to "Second Victims" of Medical Errors

A Colorado nurse's suicide earlier this year has drawn more attention to "second victims" of medical errors, according to an MSNBC news report.

Last September, Kimberly Hiatt, a registered nurse at Seattle Children's Hospital, mistakenly administered 10 times the appropriate amount of calcium chloride to a baby with "severe heart problems." According to the news report, Ms. Hiatt immediately told colleagues of the medication error, which was reportedly the only serious medical error she had committed in her 24-year career.

The eight-month-old baby later died, though it is not certain whether Ms. Hiatt's medication error was the direct cause of the already weak baby's death. Ms. Hiatt was escorted from the hospital after the mistake was reported, put on administrative leave and then fired, according to the news report. According to the news report, Ms. Hiatt was distraught by the baby's death and the possibility of not being able to work as a nurse again and in April hanged herself.

Ms. Hiatt's death fueled outrage, particularly from the Washington State Nurses Association, which later negotiated a confidential settlement with Seattle Children's Hospital on Ms. Hiatt's behalf.

The impact of patients' adverse outcomes on physicians and healthcare employees can be hugely negative, according to some recently published reports. Physicians and other healthcare workers who commit medical errors react with a range of responses from anxiety to low confidence in their medical skills and suicide. One study in a recent issue of Archives of Surgery found surgeons who believed they committed a medical error were more than three times as likely to consider suicide as those who didn't.

Read the news report about Kim Hiatt at Seattle Children's Hospital.

Related Articles on "Second Victims":
Healthcare Providers Affected by Adverse Events Request Emotional Support, Peer Support

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