Patients and doctors experiences of iatrogenic injury
Vincent C., Saunders A.
Iatrogenic injury has been recognised and studied systematically in the past twenty years. However, whilst studies have examined the frequency, causes and prevention of adverse events, very little attention has been given to their impact on patients and staff. Staff may experience shame, guilt and depression after making a mistake with litigation and complaints imposing an additional burden. Patients and relatives suffer in two distinct ways from the injury. Firstly, they suffer from the injury itself, and secondly they may suffer further trauma through the incident being insensitively and inadequately handled. In particular they may not receive an explanation, apology or reassurance that steps are being taken to prevent future incidents. Patients and families often experience prolonged distress, a loss of trust in healthcare professionals and sometimes more serious psychological problems. We believe that the care of injured patients and traumatised staff needs to be given a much higher priority, both in terms of research and in practical efforts to help those affected. How these events are dealt with, both for the staff and patients, can help lessen the negative experience for all involved, particularly a proactive, open and empathetic approach to these problems will bring great benefits to both patients and staff alike.