Do all nurses make fatal mistakes?

  1. I am a nursing student and today one of my fellow students was telling me how she expects to make a mistake in her career that will lead to a patient's death. She then said every person she knows in the medical field has made a fatal mistake at some point.

    I have heard over and over again that every nurse will make a med error, but is it true that every nurse will make a fatal error?

    Are the any experienced nurses that can shed some light on this?

    Thanks,
    Concerned/suddenly terrified student
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  2. 44 Comments

  3. by   elkpark
    Well, I've been in nursing over 30 years -- I've made my share of med and other errors, but I haven't killed anyone yet.
  4. by   justtryintonurse
    Thank you! That already gives me comfort <3
  5. by   Rose_Queen
    I've been in nursing for well over a decade now with no fatal mistakes. Seeing as I've moved on from the bedside role, I'd say it's not that likely to happen in the future. Med errors? Yes. Other errors that didn't lead to patient harm? Yes. Anything fatal? Nope.
  6. by   VivaLasViejas
    I made a few med errors during my 20 years in nursing, but never even came close to killing anyone. Don't borrow trouble, most nurses go their whole careers without harming a patient.
  7. by   nuangel1
    I have been a nurse over 30 years .Yes I have made a few med errors but no harm to pt .Certainly not a fatal error.
  8. by   PrettyNerd
    Makes me feel a little better knowing that other people out there are concerned about harming their patients. I've yet to work as a nurse partially because I'm terrified of making a fatal mistake, or any mistake for that matter.
  9. by   Davey Do
    Quote from justtryintonurse
    one of my fellow students was telling me how she expects to make a mistake in her career that will lead to a patient's death.
    xgroup-nurses3_jpg_pagespeed_ic_hl6ek703nd-jpg
  10. by   Lisacar130
    It's usually not what you do, by what you don't do.
    What if you had done that hourly round on time? What if you had called the doctor sooner when you weren't sure? Vitals were OK at the start of your shift, what if you had rechecked the vitals again? Did you miss something in assessment or assume symptoms were benign, when something bigger was going on?
    It's usually these kind of mistakes that nurses are more likely to make than directly killing a patient.
  11. by   klone
    No, that's ridiculous.
  12. by   Horseshoe
    Your classmate is an idiot.
  13. by   RotorRunner
    Uh, no.
  14. by   elijahvegas
    depends what you mean by "fatal". and then again depends on how broad your spectrum of "mistake" is.

    every nurse will make a med error. will it lead to a patients death? not all. probably not.
    every nurse will make a bad nursing judgment. will it lead to a patients death? again probably not, although i find this to be a more likely situation.

    unless its a direct kind of...sentinel event situation, its hard to say where the buck got dropped between rotation of care among nurses, so its hard for any one nurse to take blame for any one situation or outcome.

    but mistakes will happen. its up to you to be prudent enough to not allow the really bad ones to fall through the cracks.

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