Critical Incidents

Adverse patient outcomes, medical and surgical complications and medical errors affect our workplace life. These catastrophic events can lead us to question ourselves, our skills and our place in health care or at BMC. Feelings of isolation and shame only amplify our ability to re-engage and seek lessons to help in future.

Critical events can haunt us for life.

If you are involved in a critical event, you may experience the following:

  • I feel alone.
  • I am ashamed.
  • I am angry.
  • I am at fault.
  • I fear for my job.
  • I do not want to come back to work.

You may feel physical symptoms of fear, depression and fatigue.

If you find yourself in this position:

  1. Take advantage of support and psychological services available at BMC.
  2. Do not isolate yourself. Talk to others who can support you emotionally.
  3. Use writing to help you reflect and sort out emotional responses.
  4. Take adequate time to grieve and heal.
  5. Participate in the learning gathered from the critical event. Use the opportunity to prevent future events as part of your healing process.


BMC EAP – free, confidential counseling via toll-free phone line or in person for BMC employees and eligible dependents (Password for BMC Employees: LMEAP).

Please contact us to set up a decompression session at your location.

Faculty and Staff Assistance Office – free, confidential counseling and referral service for faculty, staff and their families with locations on both Medical and Charles River campuses
Office of the Ombuds – confidential, impartial, problem-solving resource serving faculty, staff, and students on the Charles River and Medical Campus.

Off campus:
Medically Induced Trauma Support Services (MITSS) – services include hotline, referrals, advocacy and more
Schwartz Center Rounds – offer healthcare providers a regularly scheduled time to discuss social and emotional issues that arise in caring for patients

MITSS Tools: self-assessment, departmental assessment, how-to-behave guides and more
Doctors have feelings, too, The New York Times