December 17, 2019

Development of surgery-specific second victim peer support program

By: Judy Mathias

Editor's Note

In this study, researchers at the Massachusetts General Hospital, designed, implemented, and assessed the effect of the first surgery-specific peer support program in the US.

The program uses five steps:

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  • creation of a conceptual framework
  • choice of peer supporters
  • training of peer supporters
  • multifaceted identification of major adverse events
  • design of a systematic intervention plan.

The program had 47 interventions in 1 year that were distributed evenly between attending and trainee surgeons; 19% opted out of receiving support.

Most said they were satisfied with the program’s confidentiality (89%), safe/trusting environment (73%), and timeliness of the intervention (83%). A total of 81% said the program had a positive effect on the safety and support culture of the department, and that they would recommend the program to a colleague.

At 1 year, the researchers concluded that the program is highly used and well received; areas for improvement include: identifying events requiring outreach and increasing awareness of the program throughout the department.


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