Symposium Examines Impact of Human Error on Cardiothoracic Surgeons

James Fan, M.D. a Cardiothoracic Surgery Physician at Stanford Hospital and Clinics on Tuesday, November 24, 2014. ( Photo by Norbert von der Groeben )

James Fan, MD

Health care providers involved in a medical error or adverse event are often considered “second victims.” They perceive themselves as being personally responsible for the unexpected outcomes and having failed their patients, causing them to further question their medical knowledge and clinical abilities.

This year’s Patient Safety Symposium will delve into When Bad Things Happen to Good CT Surgeons—Human Error and the Impact on You, the “Second Victim” from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Tuesday in Room 127ABC.

“We do not know the proportion of health care professionals who are affected by the second victim phenomenon, the long-term impact on their careers, or how these events contribute to work-related stress,” said moderator James I. Fann, MD, Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif.

For Dr. Fann, a human factors approach within the framework of patient safety acknowledges that medical errors can result from a combination of individual and work system factors. Thus, it’s important for clinicians who are second victims to understand the need and develop an infrastructure for a support program.

“For instance, some have advocated for a dedicated team that would support providers during the early stages of emotional stress, facilitate recovery from the events, and enhance career satisfaction,” Dr. Fann said.

The first presenter, James Jaggers, MD, Aurora, Colo., will discuss the impact of an adverse event on the provider.

“As much as we’d like to think that this is all a team effort, the reality is that surgeons have a substantial amount of burden placed upon them,” Dr. Fann said.

Co-author of “When Bad Things Happen to Good Surgeons: Reactions to Adverse Events,” published in the February 2012 issue of Surgical Clinics of North America, Carol-Anne Moulton, MD, PhD, Toronto, will describe the various stages a provider goes through, including stresses that may lead to burnout and how to overcome the trauma of an adverse event.

Anesthesiologist and attorney Timothy McDonald, MD, JD, Chicago, will help attendees understand the importance of disclosure and legal issues after an adverse event, including the perspective of hospitals and clinicians.

The afternoon will conclude with a panel discussion.