On 26 April, after spending weeks caring for patients with coronavirus pandemic 2019 (COVID-19) in New York City, emergency room physician Lorna Breen took her own life. A recent study conducted in the middle of the outbreak in China reported that quite 70% of frontline doctors had psychological distress after caring for patients with COVID-19. Much of what we face daily is uncharted territory, but history tells us that this trauma, like other types, may have profound implications for the psychological state of clinicians. during a study of health care workers involved within the 2003 SARS outbreak in Toronto, one-third of these surveyed reported posttraumatic stress symptoms at levels almost like those of victims of a large-scale natural disaster. Furthermore, the danger for this secondary trauma comes for clinicians who have already got a better burden of psychological state disease than the typical population.
As we’ve struggled to adapt our coping mechanisms during this point, we’ve also observed our colleagues throughout the health care system in despair, often without the support, structure, and skills to process these events. If we take timely and targeted action, we’ll provide the support our fellow clinicians desperately need. As we still mourn the catastrophic mortality from this pandemic, we must recognize that some outcomes are often prevented.