A peer-support program launched six years ago at Johns Hopkins Medicine to help doctors and nurses recover after traumatic patient-care events such as a patient’s death probably saves the institution close to $2 million annually, according to a recent cost-benefit analysis.
The findings, published online in the Journal of Patient Safety, could provide impetus for other medical centers to offer similar programs — whose benefits go far beyond the financial, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health researchers say.
Clinicians who aren’t able to cope with the stress or don’t feel supported following these events, often suffer a decrease in their work productivity, take time off or quit their jobs, they say.
“We often refer to medical providers who are part of these stressful events as ‘second victims,'” says study leader William V. Padula, PhD, an assistant professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Bloomberg School, using a term coined by Johns Hopkins professor Albert Wu, MD. “Although providers often aren’t considered to be personally affected, the impact of these events can last through their entire career.”
In 2011, Johns Hopkins Medicine started the Resilience In Stressful Events (RISE) program. The program relies on a multidisciplinary network of peer counselors — nurses, physicians, social workers, chaplains and other professionals — who arrive or call a fellow clinician in need within 30 minutes after they request help following an emotionally difficult care-related event, such as a patient in extreme pain, dealing with an overwhelmed family, or a patient being harmed through a medical error.