Second victim syndrome suicide

Remembering Nurse Hiatt & Baby Kaia on the anniversary of a medical error that led to her loss of life. Kim Hiatt, a NICU nurse, was accused of caring “too much”—until September 14, 2010, when she gave 1400 rather than 140 mg of CaCl) to a frail 8-month-old, whom she’d cared for many times & was close to the family—who forgave her. Devastated, she admitted her mistake immediately.

“I was talking to someone while drawing it up. Miscalculated in my head. First med error. I am simply sick about it.”

Her boss escorted her from the hospital where she’d worked 27 years. Panicked, she phoned to check on Kaia. Was told not to call. 5 days later Kaia was gone. A cardiologist said the error likely exacerbated cardiac dysfunction, though lawyers said it would be impossible to prove the overdose was the cause of her demise.

Kim was fired for a single medical error in a quarter-century of service. Placed on board probation, she felt “unemployable” in the career she loved. Distraught, she hanged herself at home 7 mo. later—ALL due to a math error.

“No one needed to punish Kim. She was doing a good job of that herself.” ~ NICU Nurse

Nurse Hiatt loved her job & she loved baby Kaia. The first victim was Kaia. The second victim was Kim—so traumatized she could no longer bear to be alive. 500 people were at her memorial. (I know many doctors and pharmacists who suffer from “second victim syndrome” with constant thoughts of ending their pain by their own hands years after medical errors—even when patients are unharmed). Why punish victims? Let’s create a safer system—with compassion. If we fire everyone who makes a mistake, we’ll have no nurses or doctors.

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