Supporting health care workers after medical error: Considerations for health care leaders

Andrew A. White, Amy D. Waterman, Patricia McCotter, Dennis J. Boyle, Thomas H. Gallagher

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


• Objective: To describe how errors personally affect medical professionals, barriers to the implementation of provider support programs, and key issues for hospital leaders to consider when creating a support program. • Methods: Literature review. • Results: Health care providers involved in medical errors experience significant emotional turmoil. Nurses and physicians report feeling anxious, upset, guilty, depressed, and scared after an error, often for prolonged periods. Furthermore, job satisfaction and performance may decline. Unfortunately, providers are often reluctant to discuss these emotions with colleagues and may not seek support from others as they cope with these emotions. Recent evidence shows that physicians are dissatisfied with the emotional support they receive from health care institutions after medical errors. Multiple barriers present challenges for health care leaders to designing effective support programs, including physician perceptions of efficacy, privacy, and availability. However, a few malpractice insurers and large medical centers have created programs that successfully provide emotional support to providers after errors through one-on-one counseling. • Conclusion: Medical professionals frequently experience emotional distress after medical errors and often do not receive support for coping with this distress. Leaders at medical centers and malpractice insurers should consider providing counseling services and other means of support to health care providers involved in medical errors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)240-247
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Clinical Outcomes Management
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy


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