This summer, The New York Times shed light on a dark topic – that of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that originates in the Intensive Care Unit. In the July 2013 piece, “Nightmares after the ICU,” the reporter shared horrifying stories of patients who developed PTSD after receiving treatment in the ICU.
But while the story focused national attention on PTSD in patients (and even caregivers), it included nothing about PTSD symptoms in the physicians themselves. In fact, little has been written, spoken or researched about the possibility of psychological stress disorder from a physician’s perspective (and even more specifically, a surgeon’s). However, one Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas researcher has set out to change that.
Dr. Ann Marie Warren, from Baylor’s Division of Trauma, became intrigued about the potential risks that surgeons face when they’re exposed to trauma patients daily. After she joined Baylor two and a half years ago, she was asked to steer a research-focused program specific to trauma.
Her efforts were originally designed to look at patients and families, but through the course of her work she found consistent evidence that patients aren’t the only ones affected by these experiences. Physicians are at risk, too.