Do Hospitals Support Second Victims? Collective Insights From Patient Safety Leaders in Maryland

Hanan H. Edrees, Laura Morlock, Albert W. Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Background: Second victims-defined as health care providers who are emotionally traumatized after a patient adverse event-may not receive needed emotional support. Although most health care organizations have an employee assistance program (EAP), second victims may be reluctant to access this service because of worries about confidentiality. A study was conducted to describe the extent to which organizational support for second victims is perceived as desirable by patient safety officers in acute care hospitals in Maryland and to identify existing support programs. Methods: Semistructured interviews (using existing and newly developed questions) were conducted with 43 patient safety representatives from 38 of the 46 acute care hospitals in Maryland (83% response rate). Results: All but one of the responding hospitals offered EAP services to their employees, but there were gaps in the services provided related to timeliness, EAP staff's ability to relate to clinical providers, and physical accessibility. There were no valid measures in place to assess the effectiveness of EAP services. Participants identified a need for peer support, both for the second victim and potentially for individuals who provide that support. Six (16%) of the 38 hospitals had second victim support programs, which varied in structure, accessibility, and outcomes, while an additional 5 hospitals (13%) were developing such a program. Conclusion: Patient safety officers thought their organizations should reevaluate the support currently provided by their EAPs, and consider additional peer support mechanisms. Future research is needed to evaluate the effectiveness of these programs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJoint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety
StateAccepted/In press - 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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