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Understanding Second Victims
Recovery Stages
High Risk Scenarios
Common Second Victim Responses
Second Victim Resources
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Recovery Stages


Second victim healing and recovery occurs in a predictable manner.

Six stages of second victim recovery have been identified as:

  1. Chaos and Accident Response
  2. Intrusive Reflections
  3. Restoring Personal Integrity
  4. Enduring the Inquisition
  5. Obtaining Emotional First Aid
  6. Moving On
    • Dropping out
    • Surviving
    • Thriving 

Triggering has been defined as reliving the initial event when an external stimulus, such as a similar clinical situation is presented. Triggering may occur at any time following the event by a random number of variables that the second victim encounters.

Different factors have been described as triggering fresh memories of an old event. Examples of common triggers are taking care of a patient in the exact location of the original event, similar name or similar diagnosis/treatment of the original patient. When the memory is triggered, similar physical or psycological symptoms may return.

Triggering frequently occurs throughout the various stages of recovery and can also be referred to as "tripping."

Download the PDF of the six stages of second victim recovery.




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