Medical error and unexpected outcomes affect tens of thousands of Massachusetts patients and families each year, as well as the medical staff involved in these events. The Betsy Lehman Center is working with health systems across the state to develop peer support programs to help caregivers cope after these difficult events.

An adverse medical event is a devastating experience for providers

Clinicians and staff come to work every day to provide the best care for their patients. When things go wrong, they are not well trained to deal with the aftermath of these events and can be left feeling isolated. The fear of litigation discourages communication with patients, families, and colleagues, and the involved care providers are expected to return to their work routine care as if the incident had no emotional impact.

Peer support can help

A trained peer who has had the same experience can help validate the feelings of his or her colleague, as well serve as an ongoing “check-in” point and/or as assess the need for additional help. Support is offered, but never imposed and communications are kept confidential.

The Betsy Lehman Center is working with hospitals and health systems across the state to establish peer support programs tailored to their unique needs. The pilot program offers onsite training, implementation support, and a learning community to share accomplishments and strategies for overcoming barriers.


Start a peer support program in your organization

Please email if you are interested in developing a peer support program in your hospital, ambulatory surgical center, community health center or other outpatient setting. For more information about what is needed to participate, click here.


Clinician and staff peer support toolkit

This toolkit guides organizations through the key elements of a successful peer support effort

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Peer Support Learning Community

Resources for institutions that have a peer support program or are in the process of developing and implementing a program

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Interview with Linda Kenney

Linda Kenney, Director of Peer Support Programs at the Betsy Lehman Center, became a leader in the field after experiencing an adverse event in 1999

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New survey data report

Evidence is growing that talking to a peer helps the stresses that clinicians and staff experience after a difficult event in patient care

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Support during the pandemic

A list of resources to help organizations meet the emotional needs of clinicians and staff during COVID-19

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