Supporting recovery after adverse events: An essential component of surgeon well-being

Loren Berman, Kristy L. Rialon, Claudia M. Mueller, Madelene Ottosen, Andrea Weintraub, Brian Coakley, Mary L. Brandt, Kurt Heiss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: Failure to recover after a medical error is a major contributor to burnout. The degree to which pediatric surgeons experience errors and the barriers and facilitators to successful recovery are largely unknown. Methods: We conducted a survey of American Pediatric Surgical Association (APSA) members to measure frequency of personal experience with medical errors resulting in significant patient harm, describe coping mechanisms, and explore surgeon satisfaction with institutional support in the wake of an error. Results: We found that 80% of respondents have personally experienced a medical error resulting in significant patient harm or death, and that only about one-quarter were satisfied with the support provided by their institution. Only 11% of surgeons would prefer not to be contacted after an adverse event, and most would want to be contacted by their partners. Barriers to providing and receiving support included lack of knowledge, “shame and blame” culture, and lack of trust in the institution as an ally. Conclusions: Pediatric surgeons routinely experience intense and stressful clinical scenarios and face challenging paths to recovery after adverse events. Institutions and national societies can play a critical role in creating infrastructure to help surgeons recover, in order to prevent burnout and promote well-being.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)833-838
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Pediatric Surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2021


  • Adverse events
  • Burnout, wellness
  • Medical error
  • Peer support
  • Second victim syndrome


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