What is a second victim?

A healthcare professional who has 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 professional who has 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 professionals’ personal and professional lives, so providing appropriate support is crucial.


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Vision Statement

Second Victim Support recognises the impact that a significant incident has on the healthcare providers 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 that help. It advocates for a safety culture where patient safety incidents are managed in a way that enables learning and improves systems, founded on evidence.

  • For second victims: 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; frequently asked questions about the investigation process. Here, colleagues share their personal stories, including how some coping mechanisms are more effective than others. We hope this will reassure you that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
  • For managers and colleagues: insight into the impact of patient safety incidents on clinicians; help with preparing staff to cope with patient safety incidents; signposts to sources of help and guidance.
  • For organisations: an understanding of the impact of safety culture on significant incidents; case studies of organisations who have implemented second victim support systems.

General information about second victims

This section looks at what a ‘second victim’ is, why it is important to support second victims, including the evidence base.

Find out more

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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For managers and organisations

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

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Personal Stories

Healthcare professionals share their experiences of becoming second victims

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.