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Support for Healthcare Professionals after Surgical Patient Safety Incidents: A Qualitative Descriptive Study in 5 Teaching Hospitals

Lookup NU author(s): Naresh Serou, Professor Andy HusbandORCiD, Professor Simon Forrest, Bob Slight, Professor Sarah Slight


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© Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.Objective Patient safety incidents can have a profound effect on healthcare professionals, with some experiencing emotional and psychological distress. This study explored the support medical and nonmedical operating room staff received after being involved in a surgical patient safety incident(s) in 5 UK teaching hospitals. Methods An invitation letter and information sheet were e-mailed to all medical and nonmedical operating room staff (N = 927) across the 5 sites. Semistructured interviews were arranged with a range of different healthcare professionals working in operating rooms across a wide variety of surgical specialities. Interviews were audio recorded, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed using an inductive thematic approach. Results We conducted 45 interviews with medical and nonmedical operating room staff, who emphasized the importance of receiving personalized support soon after the incident. Operating room staff described how the first "go to"people were their peers and reported feeling comforted when their peers empathized with their own experience(s). Other participants found it very difficult to seek support, perceiving it as a sign of weakness. Although family members played an important role in supporting second victims, some participants felt unable to discuss the incident with them, fearing that they might not understand. Conclusions There should be clear support structures in place for operating room staff who have been involved in surgical incidents. Health organizations need to offer timely support to frontline staff after these incidents. Senior clinicians should be proactive in offering support to junior colleagues and empathize with their own experiences, thus shifting the competitive culture to one of openness and support.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Serou N, Husband AK, Forrest SP, Slight RD, Slight SP

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Patient Safety

Year: 2021

Volume: 17

Issue: 5

Pages: 335-340

Print publication date: 01/08/2021

Acceptance date: 02/04/2020

ISSN (print): 1549-8417

ISSN (electronic): 1549-8425

Publisher: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins


DOI: 10.1097/PTS.0000000000000844

PubMed id: 33881807


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