I made a medication error. What will happen to me?

  1. Hi fellow nurses,

    I self reported a medication error. While administering a scheduled narcotic, an opiate, I accidentally pulled a different, similar dosed opiate. The packaging on the two was very similar and there were many distractions at the time. As soon as I realized an error had been made I notified the MD, monitored the patient, wrote notes, filled out an incident form, etc. In all my years as a RN, I've never been involved in any incidents like this. How worried should I be here? (The patient was fine, though I know that does not mitigate the Med error)
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    About whyohwhy

    Joined: Dec '13; Posts: 27; Likes: 17

    43 Comments

  3. by   cleback
    Depends on your workplace culture. Hopefully it is not punitive and both you and the facility both learn from the error to prevent future errors.

    But deep breath. I know it's unsettling to have a med error. Try to remind yourself that you're human and reflect how your process can be improved. Likely there were more factors in it than just you, but unfortunately, your process is the only one you have control over.
  4. by   whyohwhy
    Quote from cleback
    Depends on your workplace culture. Hopefully it is not punitive and both you and the facility both learn from the error to prevent future errors.

    But deep breath. I know it's unsettling to have a med error. Try to remind yourself that you're human and reflect how your process can be improved. Likely there were more factors in it than just you, but unfortunately, your process is the only one you have control over.

    Should I fear any licensing repercussions?
  5. by   cleback
    No. Look up your bon and notifications of those that lost their licenses. You will not see honest medication errors.
  6. by   Night__Owl
    You were not diverting, so no, I wouldn't think so.
  7. by   whyohwhy
    Quote from cleback
    No. Look up your bon and notifications of those that lost their licenses. You will not see honest medication errors.

    I have been looking to try and find this information, but I have not been able to locate it. Is there a way to find this specific information?
  8. by   Davey Do
    Quote from cleback
    Depends on your workplace culture. Hopefully it is not punitive and both you and the facility both learn from the error to prevent future errors.

    But deep breath. I know it's unsettling to have a med error. Try to remind yourself that you're human and reflect how your process can be improved. Likely there were more factors in it than just you, but unfortunately, your process is the only one you have control over.
    This. Couldn't have said it any better myself.
    Quote from whyohwhy
    Should I fear any licensing repercussions?
    Gee, whyohwhy, if med errors resulted in lost licenses there would would only be perfect nurses and non-reporters out there.

    You did what you had to do, what you were suppose to do, you made a mistake, learn from it, accept it, and go on.

    The best to you.
  9. by   Wuzzie
    You will be dragged to the town square, placed in the stocks and pelted with rotten vegetables. After which you will be forced to wear a scarlet letter H (for human) on all of your scrubs.

    In all seriousness there are two kinds of nurses out there. The ones who have made a med error and the ones who WILL. Even the most conscientious of nurses will find themselves in the midst of a perfect storm of circumstances that causes them to make a mistake. Although I have no idea how your facility will handle it I DO know what you should do. First, stop beating yourself up because no growth will come of it if you remain stuck. Second, take a look at how it happened and determine how to describe it factually not emotionally with no blaming. Third, figure out how to make it never happen again. Even if there is some sort of discipline involved if you approach it with a factual representation of the events surrounding the error and a plan in hand things usually go much better.
  10. by   Here.I.Stand
    Be kind to yourself -- we have all made med errors. If your facility culture "knows" what is good for it, it will be treated as a learning opportunity, NOT punish you. I mean... if we had to fear for our livelihood, the VAST majority of us wouldn't report. (Raises hand... I'm not risking MINE.) Without reports, system flaws go unidentified and obviously pt safety will suffer.

    For what it's worth, nearly all of the license losses in my state stem from: 1) felonies, e.g. RN convicted of rape, theft of client's schedule II's for sale 2) patient/resident/client abuse, 3) drug abuse issues -- AFTER being given opportunity to complete the state's monitoring program.

    The count of disciplines for med errors: zero.
  11. by   TriciaJ
    1. It's completely unrealistic to get through an entire decades-long nursing career without a single error. Anyone who thinks they did is self-deluded.
    2. Most med errors are systems errors. This means there were more factors at work than just you being inattentive. For example, you said there were 2 similarly-labelled narcs stored in close proximity. That is an error waiting to happen and pharmacy needs to address that. Distraction is another factor and some facilities have implemented ways for nurses not to be approached or bothered while administering meds.
    3. Many facilities become concerned when there are NO reported errors. That is because it doesn't mean errors aren't being made, they just aren't being reported. Not reported is a bad thing because systems problems can't be corrected and they don't want their first inkling to be in the form of a lawsuit.

    OP, you absolutely did the right thing. I hope your employer also does the right thing. If they give you any grief over this, they are doing the wrong thing.
  12. by   Jedrnurse
    The patient being fine WILL mitigate the med error. Believe you me, if he or she were harmed, admin would be more likely to be out for nurse's blood...
  13. by   rockyroad#
    Hope it works out for you! They'll probably send you a class and you may have to do drug testing. In Florida that's how it would happen. Every hospital should use the COW, computerized operationing Wheel. You have to scan it and the patient. If the medication is wrong, it will tell you. You're only human! Don't be hard on yourself. I used to check the order three times before I pulled it and because of that I never made narcotic errors. Good luck!!
  14. by   djh123
    I wouldn't be that worried. You did all of the right things. And if you've never made an error that you know of, you're ahead of most of us. I don't even think I have to add that the only real thing to do is to realize how and why it happened and make changes accordingly.

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