stupid mistake- wanna quit

  1. I'm about 10 months away from graduating from nursing school, and ive worked in an emergency room for a couple of years, so i know a thing or two. I dont make mistakes, I dont have room to make mistakes. So last night one of the RN's asked one of our techs to switch this pts iv fluid from potassium to NS and run it in at 800ml/hr. well, he was on his way up to the roof to get a pt coming in from lifeflight and asked me to change the pt in 6's iv pump from 150 to 800/hr. ok- so i ran in there quit while in the middle of doing 50 other things (on a holiday weekend we are swamped with 20 people in the waiting room, rooms and hallways full, and ems coming in with trauma after trauma). i didnt even LOOK at what was hanging. the nurses rarely ever hang K in the ER, it usually waits until they get upstairs for the floor nurses to do. Stupid me. i should have looked and i should have known. Luckily the nurse taking care of that pt. went into the room shortly after and noticed my stupid stupid mistake. I could have easily killed that patient. I am so not worthy to be a nurse now. im afraid that nurse will tell other nurses now and they wont be able to trust me. i am not stupid- and i know that i will make an excellent nurse- but goodness- im feeling pretty worthless right now.
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  2. 19 Comments

  3. by   James Huffman
    You made a mistake. Take a hard look at what you did wrong (I suspect you have already done that), learn from it, and go on with your studies, your career, and your life.

    Nursing is not about being "worthy." Nursing is about knowledge, professional expertise, and taking responsibility for your actions. It sounds as though you are doing all 3 of those things, and well.

    When you are a nurse (when, not if) you will make mistakes. Endeavor to make as few as you can, but when you make them, hold your head up, admit what you did wrong, and do whatever you can to correct it. It feels lousy to make mistakes like this, but everyone reading this has done something like it or worse. This, too, will pass. Give yourself a very short while to feel bad, and then hold your head up, and go on with your career.

    Jim Huffman, RN

    PS I will also point out something that many nursing students don't like to hear (and this is not specifically directed at you, Fly4): nurses sometimes delegate to students things that should not be delegated. From what you outlined, I suspect that this is the case. The nurse who directed you to do this should have done it themselves. Nursing students are not nurses. Until the initials are behind their names, it is unfair to make them shoulder professional responsibilities. (It's dangerous,too: it's our licenses that are on the line).
  4. by   peaceful
    You sound like such a good nurse to be. You've got experience and dedication. But you must remember you are only human, and humans make mistakes! All we can do is learn from horrible experiences & resolve that this will never happen again. Your patient did not die, do not berate yourself as if the pt. did die. Don't worry so much if others talk, just keep putting one foot in front of the other, doing your best. Let yourself feel down for a short time, but then move on positively helping yourself & others. Take care.
  5. by   PJMommy
    Whoa! The tech should have never delegated this to you! And by "tech", are you referring to a paramedic or a nurse's aide? (hope the answer is paramedic!) Yes, you made a mistake (and that's how we learn sometimes) -- a mistake I'm sure you'll never make again. However, it would have been the "tech's" or RN's license. No way a non-licensed person - unless under DIRECT supervision by an RN - should be changing an IV pump - period! This "tech" did not note the change in IVF - and basically asked you to make a change to a pump which was running a medicated solution. Next time, tell them "no".
  6. by   traumaRUs
    I would definitely blame the RN. In Illinois, a student or tech isn't allowed to change IV fluids. She is grossly negligent in my book, not you.
  7. by   MrsWampthang
    Yeah, you made a mistake, but learn from it and move on. In a busy emergency room, anything to do with medications should never be delegated to techs or student nurses, I don't care if it is just a fluid change. Granted the nurse probably trusted the tech to do what she asked, but I'm sure she didn't intend for that tech to pass the job to someone else. That tech shouldn't have passed it off to you, so the mistake was the tech's, as well as the nurse who had charge of this patient. You should have never been given this task to do, and I'm sure the nurse who gave the task originally to the tech knows that, and so does the tech who gave the task to you. It sounds like some staff education is in order as to who can do what, and how to prioritize so that patients don't get mixed up in the shuffle of the busyness of ER. Just remember the 5 patient "rights", right patient, right drug, right route, right dosage and right time. Always, always check the patient's name band if you are doing anything for a patient; that will be one way to prevent a mistake like you made. Anyway, in the words of someone I heard once "turn the page." I know it takes awhile to get over a mistake like that, but eventually you will. This doesn't mean you won't be a great nurse! Hang in there!

    Pam
  8. by   Tweety
    Give yourself a break. Welcome to the human race.
  9. by   SRbear
    Fly by...I am a little concerned with your statement, "I do not make mistakes"....no, none of us can afford to make mistakes...we just try to do everything possible to avoid mistakes, and if we do make a mistake, hope it will be a small one, one that does not cause any harm to patient. I see you are taking this mistake very hard..feeling now unworthy of being a nurse. I think you will be a great nurse if you admit that you can make mistakes, then get out there and try as we all do to make as few errors as humanly possible.
  10. by   Baby Catcher
    " I dont make mistakes, I dont have room to make mistakes. "

    That's your first mistake. Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone. Learn from it and move on. Look at it as a great learning experience.
  11. by   SRbear
    I am so sorry fly4life...did not mean to get your name wrong....why' fly by 'stuck in my brain I will never know !!! no disrespect intended.
  12. by   VivaLasViejas
    You were delegated to improperly........that's the fault of the RN who should have done this task herself. You also performed a task that you aren't licensed to perform......that was YOUR fault, and if you are as smart as I think you are, you won't do it again.

    I know it can be difficult to stay within a CNA/tech's scope of practice when you're a nursing student; during my own nursing program, I worked as a CNA and could only watch while the nurses performed procedures I'd been trained to do, but was not licensed to do. It was especially difficult to keep my hands out of a situation like that of the patient who needed an NG tube insertion; the RN I was working with had never put one down a live patient, while as a student, I'd done two of them! But as the aide, I could no more perform this procedure legally than fly to the moon, so I ended up sort of coaching the nurse through it........and between the two of us, it got done.

    If this is the worst mistake you ever make in your career, you'll be very fortunate. Everyone screws up at one time or another, and any nurse who says s/he has never made a med error, forgotten something, or hung the wrong IV solution is lying out their kazoo. Just remember, you don't want to lose your license before you ever get it by taking on a task or skill you are not legally permitted by your state to perform......and next time a RN or LPN asks you to do something like this, say NO!!

    Best of luck to you.
  13. by   joni p
    Quote from Fly4Life12
    I'm about 10 months away from graduating from nursing school, and ive worked in an emergency room for a couple of years, so i know a thing or two. I dont make mistakes, I dont have room to make mistakes. So last night one of the RN's asked one of our techs to switch this pts iv fluid from potassium to NS and run it in at 800ml/hr. well, he was on his way up to the roof to get a pt coming in from lifeflight and asked me to change the pt in 6's iv pump from 150 to 800/hr. ok- so i ran in there quit while in the middle of doing 50 other things (on a holiday weekend we are swamped with 20 people in the waiting room, rooms and hallways full, and ems coming in with trauma after trauma). i didnt even LOOK at what was hanging. the nurses rarely ever hang K in the ER, it usually waits until they get upstairs for the floor nurses to do. Stupid me. i should have looked and i should have known. Luckily the nurse taking care of that pt. went into the room shortly after and noticed my stupid stupid mistake. I could have easily killed that patient. I am so not worthy to be a nurse now. im afraid that nurse will tell other nurses now and they wont be able to trust me. i am not stupid- and i know that i will make an excellent nurse- but goodness- im feeling pretty worthless right now.
    Hey There!

    It's not about you. Judging from your end quote you must be a christian. In that case you must learn that The Lord is with you. You must know is that you should NEVER PERFORM TASKS THAT YOU ARE NOT QUALIFIED TO DO. It seems as though you have put nursing on a pedestal. Nurses are nothing more than people with jobs. we can take ourselves too seriously sometimes and think we are somthing special because of something we do. We are special because we are God's children and that is the only reason. He alone is worthy of praise.

    Understand that there is a much bigger plan in place than what you could fathom. God took care of you and that patient, despite your mistake--and we ALL MAKE THEM!! Receive the forgiveness.

    Take the focus off yourself, CHOOOSE to be grateful that the situation was taken care of, Ask God to show you how you could avoid such a situation again. Perhaps working in a smaller ER to start out. These days healthcare is so fast paced it is a MIRACLE that more mistakes do not take place. Admit your mistakes in all arenas, not just the workplace. BE a witness, don't just DO witnessing. Godspeed!!!

    Joni p
    Last edit by joni p on Jul 5, '04 : Reason: misread your post
  14. by   Dplear
    Everyonemakes mistakes...hell after 17 years of doing this I still make mistakes. Also if the bag contained 20 mEq of K+ then even running it at 800 cc/hr would not have killed thepaitent in all likelyhood. We have given partial fills faster than that.

    Dave

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