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In the aftermath of a perioperative death: who cares for the clinician?
  1. Daniel Rodger1,
  2. Heather Hartley2,3
  1. 1 Allied Health Sciences, London South Bank University, School of Health and Social Care, London, UK
  2. 2 School of Nursing, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  3. 3 Professional Practice, Surgical Department, Quinte Healthcare, Belleville, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Mr Daniel Rodger, London South Bank University School of Health and Social Care, London SE1 0AA, UK; daniel.rodger{at}

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Working in the perioperative environment entails exposure to traumatic and sometimes catastrophic events such as a perioperative death (PD). PD can be a uniquely devastating experience and has the potential to lead to long-term negative physical and psychological effects for the staff involved, especially when appropriate support is absent.1 2 In a number of practice settings, these destabilising effects have been shown to detrimentally compromise individual and team performance.1 3 This is of particular concern in the perioperative setting, since deterioration of individual competence and subsequent team performance has been directly linked to poor patient outcomes.4 5 Despite numerous studies establishing this link, there has been little research exploring clinicians’ experiences of PD, and organisational support for front-line clinicians remains alarmingly inconsistent. The question remains: who is responsible for the clinician in the aftermath of a PD?

A PD describes the death of a patient occurring throughout the perioperative period, after their arrival in the anaesthetic room and before leaving the postanaesthesia care unit.6 PD has been identified as an international issue; in 2009, the World Health Organization flagged …

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  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.