I’ve lost count of the number of scratchy NHS related tweet exchanges I’ve had with certain human factor fanatics over the past three years. Blooming tedious and always brings in the flying monkey types who don’t engage or discuss but just retweet the too often cultish, Stepford Wifey, non speak.
On a vaguely related note, there has been ongoing discussion over the past two days around ‘no blame’ cultures and accountability. I’ve kind of tried not to get involved but every now and again words like ‘witch hunts’, ‘equal parties’ and the like make me chip in. Earlier today the concept of ‘second victims’ cropped up. Second what…?
Blimey. Turns out there is a body of research around health professionals being ‘second victims’ when a patient is harmed. A concept introduced 16 years ago in the BMJ by AW Wu and apparently uncritically accepted as a ‘thing’. The US based paper shared earlier has the following findings and conclusion around the impact of ‘adverse patient events’:
Six stages that conveniently sidestep any engagement with responsibility or accountability. What is astonishing – in this paper, I’m sure in the broader ‘second victim’ literature and in the twitter discussions I’ve been involved in or followed as a lurker – is the cosy, untouchable, (sadly too often smug) portrayal of healthcare professionals’ working practice being beyond scrutiny. No accountability (or heaven forbid, criminal prosecutions), here thank you. Move along now. We’re doing our holier than thou, extra special work. If anything goes wrong, we need help to start to enjoy our work again.
And zip all reflection about those left brutalised by the death of their child, parent, grandparent, family member or friend…
The fakery and indulgence around this second victim nonsense is laid bare in the conclusion of the article where the authors state:
Regardless of sex, professional background or years of experience, all participants in our study easily recalled the immediate and ongoing impact of their specific career jolting event.
A career jolting event is nothing like experiencing the preventable death of a loved one. Please don’t ever pretend it is.Postscript: I’m not ignoring or denying that healthcare staff may/must be devastated by the death or serious harm of a patient here. It simply ain’t comparable to the experiences of families.