Increased Risk of Burnout for Physicians and Nurses Involved in a Patient Safety Incident

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Background:Human errors occur everywhere, including in health care. Not only the patient, but also the involved health professional is affected (ie, the “second victim”).Objectives:To investigate the prevalence of health care professionals being personally involved in a patient safety incident (PSI), as well as the relationship of involvement and degree of harm with problematic medication use, excessive alcohol consumption, risk of burnout, work-home interference (WHI), and turnover intentions.Research Design:Multilevel path analyses were conducted to analyze cross-sectional survey data from 37 Belgian hospitals.Subjects:A total of 5788 nurses (79.4%) and physicians (20.6%) in 26 acute and 11 psychiatric hospitals were included.Measures:“Involvement in a patient safety incident during the prior 6 months,” “degree of harm,” and 5 outcomes were measured using self-report scales.Results:Nine percent of the total sample had been involved in a PSI during the prior 6 months. Involvement in a PSI was related to a greater risk of burnout (β=0.40, OR=2.07), to problematic medication use (β=0.33, OR=1.84), to greater WHI (β=0.24), and to more turnover intentions (β=0.22). Harm to the patient was a predictor of problematic medication use (β=0.14, OR=1.56), risk of burnout (β=0.16, OR=1.62), and WHI (β=0.19).Conclusions:Second victims experience significant negative outcomes in the aftermath of a PSI. An appropriate organizational response should be provided to mitigate the negative effects.

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