Intended for healthcare professionals

Letters Abandon the term “second victim”

Everyone is affected, everyone a victim

BMJ 2019; 365 doi: (Published 17 May 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;365:l2160
  1. Giuseppe Vetrugno, forensic pathologist and risk manager1,
  2. Fabio De-Giorgio, forensic pathologist2,
  3. Federica Foti, forensic pathologist1
  1. 1Risk Management Unit, Fondazione Policlinico Universitario Agostino Gemelli—Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Rome, Italy
  2. 2Institute of Public Health, Section of Legal Medicine, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Rome, Italy
  1. giuseppe.vetrugno{at}

Clarkson and colleagues ask healthcare professionals to stop calling themselves “second victims” in cases of medical harm.1 What does the word “victim” mean? It comes from “victus,” a Latin term that means “defeated” or “beaten.”

When medical harm occurs, healthcare professionals have fought a battle and lost. Patients are victims, but they are …

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