Self Care After a Critical Incident

education nurse burnout nurse wellbeing perioperativenursing safety Nov 06, 2023

🚨You caused a cardiac arrest today in a young patient by forgetting to prime a giving set. The patient was resuscitated safely, but you can’t stop thinking about it 😬😬

What can you expect to happen in the next few weeks?

This is a highly stressful situation for you, and being a healthcare worker with high personal standards, you will probably have intense feelings of guilt, shame and inadequacy. 😶‍🌫️

This is called “acute critical care disorder”, and it is a normal response to a very abnormal event. It may also impact your sleep, home life and perception of your future in nursing.

A critical incident is any event that overwhelms a person’s normal coping strategies. Here’s what the evidence suggests:

DO ✅

👉 Talk it out with a trusted colleague
👉 Keep your routine of sleeping, eating and exercising
👉 Remind yourself that you have never arrived at work intending to harm a patient
👉 Use your social supports and keep doing the fun things
👉 Attend hot and formal debrief events
👉 Attend the morbidity and mortality meeting with a trusted advocate
👉 Stay in touch with your GP


👉 Repeating the story to lots of people
👉 Drugs and alcohol
👉 Publicly blaming people for the event

Everyone deals with a critical incident in their own way. But if you’re still struggling after 4 weeks, you might benefit from the guidance of a professional via your GP. 😃

Build knowledge ✅
Improve safety ✅


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