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Our healthcare environment is complex and demanding. Events such as death, unanticipated outcomes, errors, complications, or escalation to a higher level of care are a few examples of events that happen daily. The impact on you/your staff or your friends can be profound – any of whom may become a “second victim” of the same event. Second victims are left feeling responsible for the event, feeling as though they have failed, or questioning their clinical judgment. It is critical to get timely support after such events.

Reactions to a Stressful Event

Physical symptoms
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Eating disturbance
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Rapid breathing
  • Muscle tension
Psychological symptoms
  • Isolation
  • Frustration
  • Fear
  • Grief and remorse
  • Discomfort returning to work
  • Anger and irritability
  • Depression
  • Extreme sadness
  • Self-doubt
  • Flashbacks

Ways to Cope with Stress

  • Participate in physical exercise, along with relaxation, to help alleviate some physical reactions to stress
  • Remind yourself it is OK you are reacting to a stressful event
  • Keep your routines
  • Avoid alcohol and drug use
  • Give yourself permission to react; do not try to hide your feelings
  • Eat regularly; minimize the use of sugar and caffeine