I apologize in advance if this is long. There were a lot of details that played into the whole event.
Hi, I graduated from a LPN school in Dec 08. Took my boards, was all ready to get a job and get going with my new career. I have worked in the medical field, only my patients were the kind that walk on 4 legs and generally have fur, hair, feathers, or scales. However, the general medical/nursing practices are still the same. It bleeds, you bandage, its broken, it hurts! I was very highly skilled in my field after having been in for 16 years, but 2 young kids, the increase in costs, caused me to change direction a couple of years ago. So after getting my LNA, EMT, and then LPN. I figured I would at least know something.
And then I did the dumbest medication error in the world. Four different licenses, all 4 had the same rule. the 5 rights, and I missed them all, wrong patient, wrong medication etc. The medication I was supposed to give was to the person in Room A, not Room B. And of course that is what I did, only 1 1/2 hours into the shift. I immediately realized it when the woman said " I don't get this kind of medication" After checking into WHO it was, I could have smacked myself in the head! How could I not follow what was taught? what I knew? what I preach in my other field to new vet techs. NEVER give medications to any pet unless you know what it is and who/why it is for! So why would I do it for Ms Smith? Anyway, my agency "boss" screamed at me over the phone as I called for suggestions. She wasnt having any immediate reaction to the medication, no adverse reactions, nothing on her chart (allergies, other meds etc) would cause her to have a problem with the med/dose I gave (which is not what I determined on my own- I called her primary care Dr.--He determined that for me) The Dr said "Dont worry about, why are you calling me?" -I thought" Well, lets see, I just gave 90 year old ms. smith miss jane's Morphine SubL and she does have an allergy to codeine, my boss said I am out of the nursing field I might as well tear up my license and find a new career because I am done here! The Dr. told me there was no co-relation to the 2 drugs and basically "to get over it and stop bothering him". The resident had no adverse effects, VS remained normal throughout the entire night THANK GOD. Of course the rest of my first (and only? ) shift as a LPN was horrendous. The following 6AM had me racing around to try and medicate 22 out of 30 of the residents in my care, and that did not include any of the vitals, dressing, misc. things that needed to be done with them. I did have 2 very good LNAs who were regular staff and I had to have them ID all the patients for me the rest of the night. There was no ID on the resident (no wrist braclets etc) no door tags, most people had pictures, but that was about it.
So besides not following basic Nursing 101, I dont know what else I could have done at the time. There was no one else for me to ask general questions. The nurse who I changed shifts with was an agency nurse and the one coming in at 7am was too. Even the aides didnt know who to call. I was working for the agency I was hired for. There is nothing "sneaky or tricky" in resume. I am very open and honest with my past experiences, and my lack of new experience. I figured when they called and offered me a shift in a 30 bed "assisted living" (I didnt know assisted living took hospice, and those who needed skilled nursing-- I thought most of assisted living were up and about- and just needed 'assistance') A LOT TO LEARN I figured working for an agency would get me great experience (I did agency work as a LNA and loved it) and the hours would be varied. I guess what I didn't realize was that once you get there, you are on you OWN. I thought at least the nurse who would have been there would have been a regular, and gave me a brief introduction, orientate around-even if for only 15 minutes. Maybe I should have taken the hint when my boss slipped in "btw, you might not want to mention you are brand new). However, I think the nurse picked up the hint when she said "Lets do count" and I said "ok, how do we do it?" she said I was pretty calm for someone new as this particular place has had her and many others in tears. And just how long have you been a nurse? She had 15 years, at that point I was going on 15 minutes. OK another red flag.
Anyway, any suggestions. My boss was all nicey-nicey after he found out later that I hadnt done any serious harm to the woman and by the AM she had no complaints, if anything she was more then understanding, (at least I had that on my side), he just says "have a nice weekend, come in monday with a write up of what happened and why"
My question after this long winded essay is do many nurses lose their licenses over a med error involving a narcotic? I told him I would come in for a urine test, I have nothing to hide. do I have to report it to the board. any insight on this or suggestions for a better start at a 2nd attempt if I can still find a job after all this. I dont know if you get an offical write up by the board. any advise ANY at all, would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
Feb 28, '09
You got off to a bad start, which is largely because the agency hired you, knowing you're a new grad who needs supervision and orientation at first. The boss ignored the requirements for agency hires, when he told you not to reveal the extent of your inexperience, at the worksite.
Please take this in the way I mean it, which is great concern for your future nursing career. The errors you made were possibly due to nervousness, being launched into a situation for which you weren't ready. You did the right thing informing the patient's physician when you gave her someone else's medication.
There was the potential for harm, and you didn't exactly luck out by reaching a doctor who just wanted to be left alone. You were able to keep it to yourself, and weren't disciplined appropriately, which may derail the application of the things you were taught. You must be bruised everywhere from the kicking yourself you've done, though.
Before continuing to work with any agency, it would be better if you worked on a unit in an acute care hospital, with a proper orientation and supervision, for at least a year. (Which is usually a requirement for hire with a staffing agency. Otherwise you could get into poor working habits, lack of organization, and make more and more errors until you loose the sense of responsibility you exhibit now, and/or lose more self esteem. Your reliance on staff that have less education than you do for help, could be disasterous for you.
LTC seems like an easier job, but it's not as you saw, getting more patients and responsibility than you can handle now. Agencies I've known don't much care whether they're sending someone inappropriate to an assignment, as long as they get their cut of the money. There have been so many of them going out of business due to lost law suits, it's not funny.
So please look after yourself well, get the supervised experience you need, and then choose how and where you want to work. I know getting a paycheck is important, and you will have earned yours well by doing it the right way.
I've worked almost 15 years in HH supervising experienced staff; and 10 years in hospitals' infection control and staff development programs, as well as nursing administration. Other agencies sent me into facilities such as the one to which you were assigned, to assure that their clients received appropriate care. When all shifts are staffed by different nurses from various agencies, I saw red flags all over the place. The travesties I saw being done there and lack of permanent, caring staff result in serious injuries to patients; and in cases like yours, can make a good nurse turn away from her profession in disappointment or disgrace.
Your post indicates that you care about giving proficient care, you want to perform your duties correctly, and be supportive to your patients. I'd hate to see you leave our profession. So get a new start, and be able to hold your head high with the knowledge that you can take responsibility honorably.
Last edit by lamazeteacher on Feb 28, '09
: Reason: clarification