Ep 132: The Silent Epidemic in Healthcare – Second Victim Phenomenon

There’s a relatively new concept in the healthcare industry that many of its professionals are facing and might not even realize it. The ‘Second Victim’ phenomenon hasn’t always been well-known but more and more people are acknowledging this silent epidemic that frontline workers like CRNAs are dealing with every day. Robyn Finney, APRN, CRNA, DNAP has created a peer support program called HELP – Healing Emotional Lives of Peers – that is working diligently to improve the lives of anesthesia providers, and she joins the show today to help us better understand this phenomenon and how it’s affecting our industry.

Click the timestamps below to help you navigate through the many topics we discussed.

On This Episode:

It shouldn’t come as any surprise that healthcare providers working on the frontlines are constantly facing highly-emotional situations and distressing cases. That pressure can break the best people and cause many of us to become ‘second victims.’

This is a concept we don’t talk about on a regular basis but we’re starting to acknowledge it more in recent years. It was coined by a physician at Johns Hopkins in 2000 and first defined around physicians that were emotional traumatized after making a medical error. Ten years later, a consensus definition was created that encompasses all healthcare providers that face an emotionally distressing patient or clinical event.

Robyn Finney, APRN, CRNA, DNAP, created the peer support program called HELP – Healing Emotional Lives of Peers – a few years ago and has devoted a lot of her time to CRNAs and other healthcare providers that are dealing with traumatic events. She joined us today to share the experience and teach us more about this silent epidemic.

So as you get started on the episode, keep an ear out for these topics:

  • How the concept of second victim was created and what it means.
  • What does ‘third victim’ mean?
  • The most common symptoms that second victims experience.
  • Subsequent patients that suffer as a result of the previous traumatic event.
  • From her experience, what are the most common events that call for peer support.
  • More details on the support program she created.
  • What institutional support is out there?
  • The type of help that people are often looking for when dealing with this.
  • The resources that are out there and what you can do to start a group.
  • The biggest challenges she faced getting this program launched.
  • The impact that COVID is having on the profession and increasing the number of second victims.

Check it out the interview at the top of the page and use the timestamps to help you navigate through the many topics we discussed.

[3:14] – Background on Robyn  

[4:10] – Why this topic is important  

[6:34] – What is the third victim?

[8:45] – Symptoms

[11:09] – Stigmas  

[18:11] – Events that cause this  

[22:36] – Second Victim Peer Support Program

[25:36] – Institutional support

[29:31] – What kind of support is beneficial?  

[32:12] – More resources

[36:25] – Challenges she faced

[41:03] – Training she’s doing

[46:17] – How will this play out with COVID

[50:58] – Final thoughts


“When you think about the healthcare providers on the frontlines being thrown into uncertain conditions, caring for very sick patients, doing things outside of their daily routine, and being subjected to ethically challenging cases and morally distressful cases, the well-being of all us needs to be at the top of everybody’s priority list.”

-Robyn Finney, APRN, CRNA, DNAP

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