PTSD following surgical mishap is not as uncommon as might be believed. Many of our clients have suffered an injury as a result of something going awry during routine surgery. This is what is known as an “iatrogenic injury”, meaning that the injury was caused by the surgeon.
We find that clients who have previously been highly motivated, energetic people with a strong sense of identity and purpose can become quite transformed following a traumatic surgical procedure.
It is well recognised by psychiatrists that a comorbid and presentation of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and depressive disorder may follow from surgical misadventure, particularly where this results in ongoing illness or need for further surgery.
When trauma is the result of medical or surgical misadventure, the post-traumatic response may also include a sense of betrayal by and loss of faith in doctors, as we observe regularly in our clients.
It is well researched now that the medical profession achieves much better patient satisfaction and less chance of litigation, where adverse events are acknowledged openly and apologised for without reservation.
Indeed, when such a medical or surgical misadventure is perceived by the patient to have been handled insensitively or inadequately, a further trauma is often suffered, intensifying fear and loss of trust in the medical profession, particularly in situations where the events have been life threatening. This can further exacerbate the PTSD injury.
By Belinda Epstein