An Evidence and Consensus-Based Definition of Second Victim: A Strategic Topic in Healthcare Quality, Patient Safety, Person-Centeredness and Human Resource Management

Vanhaecht K., Seys D., Russotto S., Strametz R., Mira J., Sigurgeirsdóttir S., ...More

INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH AND PUBLIC HEALTH, vol.19, no.24, pp.2-10, 2022 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 19 Issue: 24
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Doi Number: 10.3390/ijerph192416869
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus, Aqualine, Aquatic Science & Fisheries Abstracts (ASFA), CAB Abstracts, EMBASE, Food Science & Technology Abstracts, Geobase, MEDLINE, Pollution Abstracts, Veterinary Science Database, Directory of Open Access Journals
  • Page Numbers: pp.2-10
  • Keywords: patient safety, healthcare professionals, second victim, healthcare quality, person-centeredness, human resource management, ADVERSE EVENTS, PROFESSIONALS, IMPACT, RADIOLOGISTS, RECOVERY, STUDENTS, INCIDENT, HISTORY, STRESS
  • Karadeniz Technical University Affiliated: No


The concept of second victims (SV) was introduced 20 years ago to draw attention to healthcare professionals involved in patient safety incidents. The objective of this paper is to advance the theoretical conceptualization and to develop a common definition. A literature search was performed in Medline, EMBASE and CINAHL (October 2010 to November 2020). The description of SV was extracted regarding three concepts: (1) involved persons, (2) content of action and (3) impact. Based on these concepts, a definition was proposed and discussed within the ERNST-COST consortium in 2021 and 2022. An international group of experts finalized the definition. In total, 83 publications were reviewed. Based on expert consensus, a second victim was defined as: “Any health care worker, directly or indirectly involved in an unanticipated adverse patient event, unintentional healthcare error, or patient injury and who becomes victimized in the sense that they are also negatively impacted”. The proposed definition can be used to help to reduce the impact of incidents on both healthcare professionals and organizations, thereby indirectly improve healthcare quality, patient safety, person-centeredness and human resource management.