Physicians' Difficulties Due to Patient Safety Incidents in Korea: a Cross-Sectional Study.J Korean Med Sci. 2020 May 04; 35(17):e118.JK
Medical professionals who experience patient safety incidents (PSIs) are vulnerable to emotional pain and other difficulties; such individuals are referred to as "second victims." This study quantitatively examines the characteristics of physicians' experiences of PSIs, along with the consequent difficulties and levels of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and post-traumatic embitterment disorder (PTED) regarding the events.
An anonymous, self-report online survey was administered to physicians. This collected information regarding PSI characteristics (e.g., type, severity of harm) and impact (e.g., sleep disorder, consideration of career change), as well as participants' socio-demographic characteristics. Meanwhile, to quantitatively assess PSI impacts, PTSD and PTED scales were also administered. PSI characteristics and impacts were analyzed using frequency analysis, and the differing effects of indirect and direct PSI experience regarding consequent difficulties were analyzed using chi-square tests. Factors associated with PTSD and PTED scores were identified using linear regression.
Of 895 physicians, 24.6% and 24.0% experienced PSI-induced sleep disorder and eating disorder, respectively. Moreover, 38.9% reported being overly cautious in subsequent similar situations, and 12.6% had considered changing jobs or career. Sleep disorder was significantly more common among participants who directly experienced a PSI (32.8%) than among those with indirect experience (15.3%; P < 0.001). Linear regression showed that indirectly involved physicians had a lower mean PTSD score (by 8.44; 95% confidence interval, -12.28 to -4.60) than directly involved physicians.
This study found that many physicians experience PSI-induced physical symptoms and behavioral responses, and that the severity of these symptoms varies depending on the type of incident and degree of harm involved. Our findings can provoke more active discussion regarding programs for supporting second victims, and can also encourage the establishing of a system for addressing PSIs that have already occurred, such as through disclosure of PSIs.