Second victims in the labor ward: Are Danish midwives and obstetricians getting the support they need?

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Objective: To describe midwives' and obstetricians' experiences on the level of support from colleagues and managers in Danish labor wards following adverse events.

Design, setting and participants: A 2012 National survey of Danish obstetricians and midwives was conducted to assess the level of support received in the workplace.

Main outcome measures: Scales on social community at work, social support from colleagues and immediate superiors, and use of support mechanisms on labor wards after serious adverse events were assessed.

Results: 2098 midwives and obstetricians were invited to complete the survey (response rate 59%), and the analyses were carried out on the 593 respondents who had been involved in at least one traumatic childbirth at their current place of work. Respondents experienced high levels of social support from colleagues and social community at work, midwives significantly higher than obstetricians, and 95% of respondents had talked to colleagues about an adverse event. Respondents generally experienced low levels of social support and feedback from immediate superiors, and only 49% had talked to their immediate superior about an adverse event. Fifty% believed that the hospital had a clear process through which they could report adverse events, and 44% knew how to access the necessary confidential emotional support at work.

Conclusions: Midwives and obstetricians experienced high levels of social support and feedback from colleagues who are the most frequent individuals to consult after adverse events. We strongly suggest developing second victim support programmes with a focus on offering peer support from qualified and trained peers.

JournalInternational Journal for Quality in Health Care
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 Nov 2018