RN put ear drops in moms eyes...help!

  1. I'm not an expert, but I think ear drops are ment for the ears, not for the eyes..the drops were for an accute ear infection for my mom who is in a coma and is on morphine because she is end stage renal failure ( stomach cancer)...thh nurse accted like I was wrong saying that "she's never needed eye drops, just ear drops, when did she start getting eye drops?" her reply:" Look, I've given her these drops before..." A call to my lawyer brother and a sprint to the nurses station to speak to a supervisor to request an inquiry, and to remove the nurse from my mothers care and room, and all I could get out of the supervisor was"We called the eye specialist, and the drug company, and there shouldnt be any long time effects from the drops, we'll have the incicdent report available to you Monday." This happened Friday afternoon. I am just a CNA student, and a hopefull candiddate for the LPN course come August, but I know they did something very wrong here. Will the nurse be repremanded or fired? The other nurse to take over moms care said that the order looked like eye drops to the offending RN, even though all the other shift RN's have successfully read these orders for a week now. This hopsital ( Milton Hospital in Ma.)has a ratio of 6 patients per RN, but CNA's are lucky to step into your room 2 times a week...I've been the one to drain her bile bag ( Jtube) and bag for her foley, not to mention bath her and change her bedding, because nobody comes in to do it. I'm afraid to leave her alone, and she's been there a month now...I'm emotionally and physically drained, not to mention heavy hearted from seeing my mom deteriate before my very eyes after being diagnosed just a month and 1 week ago. with this cancer...any advice on how to go about composing myself and dealing with this situation will be deeply appreciated!
    Last edit by miss h.m on Dec 9, '06
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  2. 16 Comments

  3. by   augigi
    I'm sorry about your Mum's situation, that must be difficult to deal with.

    I don't think the nurse would or should be fired for a simple med error, but it sounds like her attitude needs work.
  4. by   SharonH, RN
    Quote from miss h.m
    I'm not an expert, but I think ear drops are ment for the ears, not for the eyes..the drops were for an accute ear infection for my mom who is in a coma and is on morphine because she is end stage renal failure ( stomach cancer)...thh nurse accted like I was wrong saying that "she's never needed eye drops, just ear drops, when did she start getting eye drops?" her reply:" Look, I've given her these drops before..." A call to my lawyer brother and a sprint to the nurses station to speak to a supervisor to request an inquiry, and to remove the nurse from my mothers care and room, and all I could get out of the supervisor was"We called the eye specialist, and the drug company, and there shouldnt be any long time effects from the drops, we'll have the incicdent report available to you Monday." This happened Friday afternoon. I am just a CNA student, and a hopefull candiddate for the LPN course come August, but I know they did something very wrong here. Will the nurse be repremanded or fired? The other nurse to take over moms care said that the order looked like eye drops to the offending RN, even though all the other shift RN's have successfully read these orders for a week now. This hopsital ( Milton Hospital in Ma.)has a ratio of 6 patients per RN, but CNA's are lucky to step into your room 2 times a week...I've been the one to drain her bile bag ( Jtube) and bag for her foley, not to mention bath her and change her bedding, because nobody comes in to do it. I'm afraid to leave her alone, and she's been there a month now...I'm emotionally and physically drained, not to mention heavy hearted from seeing my mom deteriate before my very eyes after being diagnosed just a month and 1 week ago. with this cancer...any advice on how to go about composing myself and dealing with this situation will be deeply appreciated!
    I'm sorry about your mom's health. I've had a parent who was very ill and I know how stressful it is. Isn't there anyone who can relieve you at her bedside for just a few hours so you can get some rest? You'll feel better and be in a better position to help your mom.

    As for the nurse, she made a medication error which happens. I doubt that she will be fired or even reprimanded as simple mistakes do happen unfortunately. They checked to make sure there would be no long-term affects from the drops and an incident report was filed and generally in situations such as this, that is all that is done. Their actions sound appropriate.


    Is there a chaplain on staff at that hospital? Perhaps you can ask them to come up and talk to you, maybe that would help with your emotional overload. I wish I had more suggestions for you. Hopefully one of my colleagues will have some good advice, you came to the right place. Take care.
  5. by   banditrn
    While this may not be a firing offense, it sounds like she had been doing the same thing regularly. She needs to pay a little more attention to what she's doing.

    OP - I am so sorry for what you are going thru - been there, done that. Yes, I surely hope that you're not the only one there.
  6. by   SCRN1
    I'm so sorry about the state of your mom's health and that this incident happened to her. Good thing you were there to catch it or the nurse would've probably continued to put it in her eyes and her ears wouldn't have gotten the med needed.

    This is a reason why JACHO now stopped allowing some of the abbreviations that they have. The ones that were used for right eye, left eye, both eyes, right ear, left ear, both ears could be very confusing to many if not memorized well, which can set someone up for using them wrong.

    Like the others said, the nurse may not be fired for one med error. Especially since no long time harm was done. But she should be written up for not giving a medication the right way and if she wasn't completely sure of an abbreviation, she should have looked it up or asked someone.
  7. by   Kyrshamarks
    actually alot of ear meds can be use as eye meds also. Alot of drops are interchangeable for eachother such as cipro eye drops and cipro ear drops.
  8. by   southern_rn_brat
    the first thing you did was consult your "lawyer brother"??
  9. by   fiestynurse
    Really sorry to hear about your mom. Unfortunately, Eye and Ear drops get mixed-up quite frequently. It's important to have good systems in place and identify these drops really well on the bottles and in the MAR. I had a med pass nurse who obtained little stickers with a picture of an eye and a picture on an ear - she sticks them on the boxes, bottles, MARs. I thought it was weird at first, but I bet she has prevented a lot of med errors.

    She has gotten really creative lately - She put a picture of Freud on the drawer where the Psych meds are kept. That one made me laugh.
  10. by   Elektra6
    Fiestynurse, I want those stickers! That's so cute
  11. by   CarVsTree
    Hi Miss H.M.

    I'm very sorry for what you and your family must go through.

    As for the med error. It is not uncommon at all for a pt. in a coma to have eye drops ordered. Since they don't blink their eyes, secretions in the eyes can thicken. If the MAR was hard to read, than a clarification would have been in order. But, she should not be fired for being human. We all can and do make mistakes. At my hospital we have electronic MAR and doctor's enter their orders in the computer which eliminates the above error.

    As for your mom's care, rather than doing everything yourself, perhaps you can request that it be done for your mom. Right or wrong, the staff has probably gotten used to you bathing and emptying drainage bags, so they are letting you do it. Let them do it and you can just spend time with your mom, rather than taking care of her drains. Please bring your concerns re: your mom's care to the manager.

    What is your mom's prognosis? Have you or has the hospital suggested getting hospice involved. Hospice not only care's for the dying but also the family of the dying.

    I wish you all the best and hope that your mom receives adequate care during this most difficult time.
  12. by   CarVsTree
    Quote from southern_rn_brat
    the first thing you did was consult your "lawyer brother"??

    Yes her lawyer brother (also her mother's son). OP feels overwhelmed and out of ctrl over the care of her mother and did not know what to do.

    Please have compassion on her situation.
  13. by   miss h.m
    thaks everyone...the stickers are a great idea!!! my main concern was that mom isnt feeling any of the negative side effects..we upped her morphine as she had wiggle room to do so...her hazel eyes have turned a slate blue grey..we dont know if it was contributed from the drops or from the progression of her diesease..but as long as she is comfortable, I am fine with it.I notified the nurses station first, then called in my family, one of my brothers happens to be her attorney and her proxy...I have called her parish and asked for someone to give her absolution(last rites) but its been days and nobody has come by to do so, however, the sisters from her order(Fransiscan order she joined many years ago that civilians can be a part of) have come by to give her communion up until she went into the coma...as an aspiring nurse(someday) I wouldnt want to upset any family, nor would I want to be fired for a mistake...what goes around comes around...mistakes do happen, and not purposely. I do feel bad for the RN, even more so if it kept her up last night..things happen for a reason, I just learned one more valueble lesson because of this...I hope the RN did too...
    thanks Suekay!! that felt like a warm rub on the back, just when I needed it most!!
    Last edit by miss h.m on Dec 9, '06 : Reason: oops, spelling!
  14. by   babynurselsa
    I am so sorry for what you and your family are going through. This is such a stressful time for you all.
    By what you said it would appear that the manager addressed the issue with you by checking to make sure that your mother did not recieve lasting damage.
    Is it possible that BECAUSE you are performing all of your mom's personal care the staff is allowing you to do so? Do you request that someone come and bathe your mom or do you just do it?
    We here cannot offer legal or medical advice. We can offer you condolonces and prayers.
    Good luck

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