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How can physicians be supported during the pandemic?

Article-How can physicians be supported during the pandemic?

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The spread of the virus has not only taken a physical toll on healthcare workers but a mental one as well.

Burgeoning waiting rooms with patients, hospitals at full capacity with limited beds, and a virus at the centre of it which keeps mutating. This is only a fraction of the tremendous weight being shouldered by healthcare workers. The trauma of navigating through an ever-changing climate of physical wellbeing was only heightened by witnessing the loss of lives to the deadly virus.

Pre-COVID, patient suffering in the emergency room has been documented to be a source of affecting the well-being of emergency department personnel. According to the study Baseline well-being, perceptions of critical incidents, and openness to debriefing in community hospital emergency department clinical staff before COVID-19, published in the BMC Emergency journal, events categorised as critical incidents were mass casualty events (84.6 per cent), death of a patient (69.2 per cent) and caring for critically ill children. Critical incidents were typically reported (81.6 per cent) as occurring once per week. In addition, 76.2 per cent of participants expressed wanting to converse about a critical incident with their team. Across all respondents, 45.7 per cent scored borderline or abnormal for anxiety, 55.9 per cent scored moderate for burnout, and 55.8 per cent scored moderate to high for secondary traumatic stress.

A journal from The National Library of Medicine says that Critical Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD) has been accessible to professionals who are exposed to traumatic or high-stress situations, such as disaster workers. CISD is widely regarded as a successful method for promoting recovery and resilience. There are benefits of giving CISD to health professionals who are involved in patient safety-related AEs, as well as the scenarios in which this may be done on a regular basis.

However, COVID-19 has been a journey into uncharted territories for many healthcare specialists and usual methods of support such as CISD can be limiting. The degree of uncertainty related to novel pathogens adds to the anxiousness experienced, making them vulnerable to not only the high risk of infection but also fragile mental health. Necessitating support for physician well-being is becoming paramount. In the below clip by Massachusetts General Hospital, doctors James Kimo Takayesu and Derek Lee Monette speak about how a guide can be created for peer support intervention.

To watch, click here

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