Sentinel Event Alert 62: Health care workers in the midst of crisis

The continuing onslaught of COVID-19 is pushing health care organizations to their limits and workers beyond physical exhaustion. COVID-19 is inflicting emotional damage among those who care for patients, according to a recent article in The Atlantic Monthly. “To be a nurse, you really have to care about people,” said a nurse working in an Iowa hospital. But when an ICU is packed with COVID-19 patients, many of whom are likely to die, “to protect yourself, you just shut down. You get to the point when you realize that you’ve become a machine. There’s only so many bags you can zip.”

These kinds of traumatic experiences – shared by America’s health care organizations during the COVID-19 pandemic – underscore the critical importance of supporting health care workers who bear the burden of crisis situations along with patients and families.

Sentinel Event Alert 62