fear of Killing a pt- necessary??

  1. Today I went to a workshop with a bunch of other new grads in critical care. While there we got to discussing our fears/stressors and everyone but myself listed the number one fear as that of killing a patient. When I said I was not afraid this occurring, I was looked upon as some sort of uncaring fool.
    Well, I do care for my patients. I work in an ICU where most of the patients have a poor prognosis. I feel totally responsible for helping that pt reach the highest level of functioning possible... I talk to them all, even the unconcious ones, and tell them funny jokes/how the weather is etc. I tape photos of the family up where the pt can see them. I even offer gold stars for getting through an ng insertion or an IV or ABG (silly, but to my surprise, my 60-80 yr olds who are alert - crani's mostly, LOVE the gold stars- they often ask later on, if they can have a gold star for whatever....I double check my medications, orders, MAR's, etc before I implement anything, and sometimes feel a little too slow because of all the checking. In addition, I make sure to persue referrals for PT/OT (often forgotten in the ICU), and to seek help from more experienced RN's when I feel unsure.I have no desire to unintentionally (or intentionally) kill a patient, but I don't (as some girls stated) go home and have nightmares about this happening. I know that a little fear is healthy-and I certainly have a fear at different moments in each shift. But should I experience on overwhelming fear, for an entire 12 hour shift that I am going to accidently kill a patient? Am I a bad nurse because I don't always have this fear? Help me out here please!
  2. Visit hollykate profile page

    About hollykate

    Joined: Jul '00; Posts: 343; Likes: 24


  3. by   JillR

    Relax!!! You are a wonderful, caring and conscientious (sp) nurse. You don't have the fears that the other new grads do because you are very careful and are getting comfortable in your role. These other new grads may not come as far with their confidence as you have. (I think we have been through all of this before).

    Yes, a little fear is good, but alot of fear can be detrimental also. Alot of fear can prevent a person from making cound decisions.

    Your patients are very lucky to have you as thier nurse. I can bet that the patients can tell that these other new grad are terrified and I bet that makes the patients and family members nervous, I know it would make me uncomfortable having an unsure and fearful nurse taking care of my family memeber.

    You are worrying way too much. You are great. Don't worry about it.

  4. by   Mijourney
    Hi hollykate,
    I agree with JillR's post. Your post indicates that you are doing fine, and that you have increasing confidence in what you do. That is nothing to be ashamed of. Realize that in this litigious society, many health care practitioners are fearful of doing harm. Probably the vast majority of physicians practice medicine out of fear. Unfortunately, moderate to extreme fear, as Jill indicated, can adversely affect your job and your ability to administer compassionate, effective, and efficient care. It also contributes to unnecessarily high health and medical costs, more mistakes because of exaggerated use of technology, resulting in a lost of jobs. Of course, all this can lead to more insecurity. I am hopeful that you will keep this sense of security about yourself in a mostly insecure profession. It is nurses like you who we will look to as a leader as nurses like me move off the scene. Best wishes.
  5. by   oldnurse
    YOUR nursing values and performance are just want I would like from all nusres if I'm ever hospitalized. Keep true to your heart.

  6. by   USA987

    I don't think your a horrible nurse. I had an instructor tell me once, "Christine, if your in the room when your patient codes, remember, anything you do can't possibly hurt the patient, it can only help".

  7. by   JulieW
    Holly, it sounds like you're an incredibly compassionate nurse and your confidence is something you should take pride in.

    One of my nursing instructors used to tell us over and over again how it would be at least 6 months before we would feel like we're not going to kill someone. I never appreciated her drilling such a negative thought in us. I know a lot of new grads that have a big fear of killing (or even harming) a patient, and I think while it's good to be aware and concious of our actions, that such negative feelings can only hinder us. Sounds like you're right on target. I hope I'm able to deliver such good care soon after working. (I start next week!)


  8. by   hollykate
    Thanks everyone,
    I really appreciate the support, and the very thoughtful words. I feel better already!! Now to find my gold star supply before I go to work.....
  9. by   oramar
    Originally posted by hollykate:
    Thanks everyone,
    I really appreciate the support, and the very thoughtful words. I feel better already!! Now to find my gold star supply before I go to work.....
    It is wise of you not to waste emotional energy chronically obsessing about this "kill a patient" thing> Be wise again and do not waste energy worrying about what others think.
  10. by   Sarah MCG
    I agree with everyone that posted here. I am just a beginning nursing student, starting clinicals. And to tell you the truth I don't have the fear of killing anyone either. I worked in a nursing home before and learned to separate life and death. None of the nurses that I worked with ever killed a patient. If you are careful, double check and are confident in the work you do, you have no reason to doubt your abilities. Being stressed over killing someone, does more harm than good and may even make you make a medication error. You know working, if you have any doubts about medications or treatments, to ask before you give. This is the only recourse you have. You sound confident and comfortable. I hope every nurse that ever works on or with me, to feel the same.

    Best of Luck!