Supporting staff who are second victims after adverse healthcare events
Intended for healthcare professionals

Supporting staff who are second victims after adverse healthcare events

Jayne Elizabeth Marran Patient safety research nurse, Bradford Institute for Health Research, Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Bradford, England

Why you should read this article
  • To understand how being involved in adverse events can negatively affect healthcare professionals

  • To enhance your knowledge of the investigation process following an adverse event

  • To count towards revalidation as part of your 35 hours of CPD, or you may wish to write a reflective account (UK readers)

  • To contribute towards your professional development and local registration renewal requirements (non-UK readers)

Healthcare delivery is challenging and complex, At some point, most healthcare professionals, including nurses, will be directly or indirectly involved in adverse events, such as medication errors, patient safety incidents, witnessing adverse events and near misses. While the patient is considered the first and most important ‘victim’ of such events, the healthcare professional involved is often considered the ‘second victim’. Second victims often experience negative psychological effects due to the event, may feel they have failed the patient and can doubt their clinical skills and knowledge base. This may lead to absenteeism and their leaving their profession.

This article explores the concept of healthcare professionals as second victims, as well as the effects of adverse events on these individuals, their managers and healthcare organisations. It also details the investigation process, the healthcare professional’s legal and professional responsibilities after an adverse event, and the resources and services available to support second victims.

Nursing Management. doi: 10.7748/nm.2019.e1872

Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and has been checked for plagiarism using automated software



Conflict of interest

This project is supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Yorkshire and Humber Patient Safety Translational Research Centre. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care

Marran JE (2019) Supporting staff who are second victims after adverse healthcare events. Nursing Management. doi: 10.7748/nm.2019.e1872

Published online: 28 November 2019

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