advice needed re: med error

  1. Hi everyone, I'm a new nurse. Up until now everything has been OK and I've been getting good feedback from pt./co-workers. I really love the feeling that comes with making someone's day go a little easier and I love those moments when I feel like I can really be a nurse, may be even a good one. Each day I'm learning and 98% of the folks I have dealt with at the hospital have been kind and helpful. So just when I'm getting OK and getting a little confidence I made a medication error. A very basic, stupid fundamental nursing error of right med/ wrong patient. I have no excuses. I can't look at myself in the mirror much less imagine walking back to the unit and I have been crying since. I notified the Doctor and filed an incident report. MD basically reinforced how stupid I was. So I did the "right" thing and have integrity and honesty --just no pride. No harm was done, no action was neccessary but the magnitude of the mistake is killing me & the fact that I made a mistake like this. I don't know what to do. Is it likely they'll fire me? Have I messed up my career before it's ever been established? Should I quit? And because I made a mistake like this mean it's probable I should never have become a nurse in the 1st place? I keep thinking I may have the heart for nursing but not the skill. I'm sorry if this post seems tedious to read and I thank you in advance for any reply. I don't mind a harsh dose of reality, I haven't been working long, have no one to talk to about this and I'm very nervous about the next day of work.. your responses will help me know what to expect.
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  2. 10 Comments

  3. by   1BlessedRN
    Hi this may make you feel better and it may not but we have all made some kind of error in nursing new & seasoned nurses with meds being #1 on the list. I commend you for your honesty, having a conscience will only enable you to improve your skills....stop crying and worrying about the MD, and your job...hang in there you will be ok...you'll see :wink2:
    Good Luck to you!
  4. by   ClaireMacl
    First of all, well done on immediately admitting your error, that is the number one rule!

    I'll be honest, in my first two months of nursing (been doing it 3 1/2 years now), I made a huge error of giving actrapid instead of insulin to a pt. I realised immediately, admitted my error and thankfully the only action necessary was hourly blood sugars for the patient.

    I was referred to the director of nursing (not sure what the head of nursing in the US is). They congratulated me on admitting everything, but was put under supervision on all aspects of my nursing care for three months, getting a personal shift report after every shift. I didn't have one bad report, but the supervision scared the heck out of me and I am sooo careful now! I believe the senior nurse who checked the drug with me got a worse fate, at least she wouldn't talk to me after that and left shortly after

    Don't think about leaving nursing at all, we ALL make mistakes, the difference between a bad nurse and a good nurse is the bad nurse will cover it up and not change her practice. Try to find a preceptor at work or someone who will guide you in your practice and above all, try not to worry, that's when errors really do happen!
  5. by   hollykate
    Not to minimize anything, but we ALL make errors. I watched a 20 yr veteran give a tetanus to the wrong patient, she actually verified with the patient that the patient was the correct patient, BUT, the in-correct patient was a confused little lady who just answered yes to everything.
    It happens. Anyone who says they have never made a med error is just unaware or did not catch their error.

    That said, most likely you will need to have a bit of counseling done by your educator or manager. It is also worth you reflecting on what the chain of events were that lead to your error, just to help to not repeat it.

    Good Nurses learn from errors. Thats what seperates an excellent nurse from one who just "gets by"
  6. by   pugmum
    all4joy, do not beat yourself up over this. yes, med errors are serious, without a doubt. but remember one thing - you let someone know right away. that is the most important thing you could have done for this patient...i cannot emphasize that strongly enough.

    i truly believe there are few nurses out there who have never made a med error. i know i have, and i always considered myself to super careful whenever giving meds...right pt, dose, time, reason, etc. etc. but mistakes do happen. you did not set out purposely to make this error.

    it's one of those things they call a 'learning experience' from the school of hard knocks. hang in there.
  7. by   Bipley
    The upside to a med error is that you are more careful next time. And the next time, and the time after that. Seriously, I think it takes a med error to really bring it all home how serious our jobs are. I don't think any of us realize what our jobs require until we mess up.

    You will cry and doubt yourself for a little longer and then you will realize that you are human and you screwed up. Don't let the doc get to you, you did the right thing in reporting it. We all know docs screw up too, they just don't always admit it.

    Hang in there, life gets better! I swear!
  8. by   GingerSue
    and this is your opportunity to reflect on what happened, to learn from your mistake
    be thankful that no harm occurred
  9. by   TazziRN
    Do NOT even think about quitting! I doubt there is a nurse in the world who has not made at least one med error. If your mistake did not result the death of the pt, I don't see why they would fire you. A pox on the doc for making you feel stupid!!! I guarantee he has made mistakes before, and too bad that he doesn't remember what it feels like. Bottom line is, did you learn from your mistake? Your employer may want to take some action to go over proper med admin with you but that's probably as far as it will go. Are you union? If yes, contact your rep, they'll be able to help you the most with your questions and fears.

    {{{{all4joy}}}}
  10. by   LoriAlabamaRN
    Don't beat yourself up over it. Even as a new nurse chances are you have given hundreds of pills starting in nursing school, possibly even thousands. If you make one med error, and have a 99.99% rate of success, then are you a bad nurse? No. There is a wonderful thread here called "Worst med error" , it's not called "Have you ever made a med error?" because all of us who have been in practice for any length of time have. I know that I have, I read an order wrong and gave Seroquel instead of Desyrel (in the MD's cursive writing it sure looked like Seroquel). I beat myself up over it for a while too, even thought my license was going to be in jeaopardy. Now I see how unnecessary the fear was. As long as you learn from this, and realize that even you can make mistakes, you'll be fine. Absolutely don't leave nursing! We need people as conscientious as you!!!
  11. by   yankeesrule
    I agree with everyone else dont beat yourself up. You admitted you made a mistake.. Surprise surprise your human. Take from it and learn from it.

    I personally know a veteran RN who was in charge of administering the flu injections last winter to her designated area staff.. she injected them with the tubuclosis solutions. That was over 20 people she did this too. Thank Goodness no one was allergic to eggs and she is still with the facility.

    Next time someone thinks they are perfect ask them to walk on water!!
    Cheer up I myself have had a med error. I felt horrible for a while. I too worried about my job, my liscense, but I am still here. Please let me end this post knowing you are feeling a little better and perhaps looking in the mirror again!
  12. by   DapperRN
    I have yet to meet a nurse who hasn't made an error. You will punish yourself far worse than anyone else ever could. And from experience that nauseating feeling will eventually subside. And anyone that attempts to ridicule, harrass or promote any negative attitudes toward you because of this, is in my mind a dangerous individual, or has made more mistakes that one could count. I learned so much from a med error that I made as a graduate nurse and I remember the feeling of "good god I'm not cut out for this" but the incident has made me a better nurse. So firstly you will never make that mistake again I'm sure, second you will learn so much from this nasty experience, and third, when you have been doing this for a few years and you come across some new nurse who's made an error you will definately know how not to treat them. Best of luck to you, I would only be worried if you weren't this upset about it, sounds like your more than cut out for the job!

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