Time to break the silence — 4 notes on surgeons coping after an adverse event

A 2015 study found medical errors can have long-term negative effects on those providers involved in the incident. As nearly 33 percent of study respondents said medical errors had at least a moderate effect on their personal life, professional relationships and work performance, providers need ways to cope, according to General Surgery News.

Here are four notes:

1. The culture of surgery needs to change. Many surgeons feel they cannot openly talk about their emotional suffering because they are concerned about losing their jobs, reputation and professional respect as well as facing medicolegal action. The culture needs to change because the silence around the trauma deters surgeons from speaking about their distress.

2. If patients and providers operate in an environment where it is unsafe to report mistakes, the healthcare system cannot learn how to prevent mistakes and health systems cannot work to improve their systems and policies.

3. Boston-based Brigham and Women's Hospital offers providers one-on-one and group support following an adverse event. The one-on-one proved most beneficial to surgeons as researchers found many surgeons do not participate in group sessions, or enacted their role as a team leader when attending.

4. If surgeons acknowledge and discuss the emotional effect of an adverse event, they are more prone to discuss errors with patients in a compassionate manner.

More articles on quality & infection control:
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