Residents’ Response to Medical Error: Coping, Learning, and Change

Published in Academic Medicine, the following article explores the significant emotional challenges facing resident physicians in the setting of medical mishaps, as well as their approaches to coping with these difficult experiences. Twenty-six resident physicians were randomly selected from a single teaching hospital and participated in in-depth qualitative interviews. Residents expressed intense emotional responses to error events. Poor patient outcomes and greater perceived personal responsibility were associated with more intense reactions and greater personal anguish. For the great majority of residents, their ability to cope with these events was dependent on a combination of reassurance and opportunities for learning. Interactions with medical colleagues and supervisory physicians were critical to this coping process.

Effects on Clinician Health and Well-Being, Learning Environment

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