What is a second victim?

Healthcare employees who have experienced a significant personal or professional impact as a result of a patient safety incident can be referred to as a second victim.


Where can I get help?

If you are a healthcare employee and have experienced a significant personal or professional impact as a result of a patient safety incident, there are many sources of support available.


Why support second victims?

Involvement in patient safety incidents can significantly impact healthcare employees’ personal and professional lives, so providing appropriate support is crucial.


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Your feedback is welcome


Vision Statement

Second Victim Support recognises the impact that a patient safety incident has on the healthcare employee involved. Whilst the patient and their family are always the priority, this website seeks to help ‘Second Victims’ identify the types of support they may need, and signpost them towards help. Our website advocates for a safety culture in healthcare organisations where patient safety incidents are managed in a way that enables learning and improves systems, founded on evidence.

  • ‘Second victims’ will find: a place of recognition that you are not alone in your experience; signposting to sources of help; signs to look out for that your health or ability to work is being affected by your experience; and frequently asked questions about the investigation process. Here, healthcare employees share their personal stories of being involved in a patient safety incident, including how some coping mechanisms are more effective than others. We hope this website can reassure you support is available and there is light at the end of the tunnel.
  • Managers and other healthcare employees will find: insight into the impact of patient safety incidents on healthcare staff; help to prepare staff to cope with patient safety incidents; signposts to sources of help and guidance to assist you in offering the appropriate level of support for those involved in patient safety incidents.
  • Organisations will find: an understanding of the impact of patient safety culture on patient safety incidents and those involved in these;
    • an organisational staff support model and associated approaches aligned to different levels of support, which if available, could prevent those involved in patient safety incidents experiencing lasting consequences: case studies of organisations who have implemented second victim support systems, and;
    • a Just Culture Assessment Framework to allow for self-assessment and action to improve organisational patient safety culture.

General information about second victims

This section looks at what a ‘second victim’ is, and provides evidence to highlight why it is important to support second victims.

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For second victims looking for support

This section contains information about the impact of being involved in a patient safety incident, when and where to find support.

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Supporting Second Victims

This section contains examples of organisations who have developed a culture which supports second victims.

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Personal Stories

Healthcare employees share their experiences of ‘second victim’ phenomenons

Georgina’s Story (Paramedic)

Catherine’s Story (Consultant Anaesthetist)

Simon’s Story (SAS Anaesthetist)

Clare’s Story (hospital-based Nurse)

Lucy’s Story (hospital-based Nurse)

Kate’s Story (hospital-based Dentist)

Simon’s Story (Consultant Gastroenterologist)

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Acknowledgement: This project was supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Yorkshire and Humber Patient Safety Translational Research Centre (NIHR Yorkshire and Humber PSTRC). The views expressed in this website are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR, or the Department of Health and Social Care. Access our full disclaimer.