First Med Error

  1. With only two weeks left of my last semester of nursing school, I made my first med error. My patient was off the floor most of the day for procedures. He returned one hour before clinical ended. I had an IV push med to give and a mini to hang, to catch him up on the scheduled meds he missed while off the floor. Then he requested pain medication - IV push. My instructor was with me, and we ended up leaving together a half hour after clincal was suppose to be over.

    On the way home, I realized I forgot one med that had been held that morning before his procedures. I immediately called the hospital and left a message for the RN I was working with. I then left a message on my instructor's cell telling her about the missed med and what I did to rectify the situation.

    My instructor called back a while later. She had already called the RN to confirm my story. She was very understanding, and told me to learn my lesson and move on. She also explained it needed to be written up as a med error.

    I am sick about the whole situation. I feel horrible!! Although I'm a 3.92 GPA student with wonderful clinical evaluations, I feel like a failure. How do I get past this??

    Thanks.
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    16 Comments

  3. by   lisabeth
    I must admit, I can imagine how you feel. I am just fixing to start the nursing program, and while I know at some point in time, I will make a mistake of some kind. No one is perfect, so you dont need to beat yourself up. No medical error is unimportant, but it doesnt sound like it was life threatening, or I would think your instructor would have been much more upset about it.
    I think you did all you could do to get the mistake fixed, so try to relax. I know, that is easier for me to say than for you to do, but I think the fact that it bothers you so much, you will be more apt to notice it sooner next time.
    I know I will probably feel exactly the same way if I do something like that, so I will try to remember my own advice and follow it.
    I am sure you will make an excellent nurse.
  4. by   Sugarcoma
    I can understand how badly you feel, it is tough to make a mistake. I am not a nurse yet, haven't even started my program, but I could imagine how badly I would feel if I made a med error. The fact that the error was not life threatening and the fact the you took steps to correct it before calling your instructor makes you sound like a very conscientious and mature person in my mind. Please do not be so hard on yourself. You are a STUDENT and even though you are close to the end of your program, you are still learning. Better the mistake be made now while still a student. You should remind yourself that you are a human being and we all make mistakes from time to time, you did all you could to rectify the situation, you owned your error and did not try to make excuses for it. It may take awhile for you to get over it, but I bet you will be extra careful after making this error. I think it will make you a stronger and safer nurse.
  5. by   AliRae
    What was the med you missed? Not to sound as though you should go through your career casually missing meds, but forgetting the odd dose of pepcid here and there rarely makes huge difference in an overall outcome.

    I do know that feeling that comes with a med error. I remember when I was supposed to give albumin over an hour ... I hooked up my piggyback, programmed my pump, saw it start and left. 10 MINUTES later, looked into the room and wondered why the heck that dang bottle was so frothy. I almost peed myself when I realized I had hooked the piggyback up AFTER the pump. Thankfully it was a big kid and no harm no foul ... she kinda needed the bolus anyway!

    All that to say, hey- at least you got it over with early on! No one was hurt, you acted exactly as you should have in response to the situation, and now you're past that ominous, looming hurdle of "The First Med Error You Will Ever Make" I'm not advocating shoddy nursing here, just a sense of the wider perspective. =)
  6. by   RN1263
    Did you get a clinical "F"?
    I did a med error last semester and yep you feel like poo and the "F" is the icing on the cake, BUT you WILL learn and move on..... everyone make mistakes don't be too hard on yourself!
  7. by   Thedreamer
    Just be thankful it wasnt a K bolus you gave.. That would have been scary! I pray I never make a med error, but even my OCD about meds and 6 rights cant beat statistics. *shudder*

    Hugs and all that, be thankful the error wasnt damaging!
  8. by   sshannon
    This is a good time to stop and think about how you will handle other "less than perfects" you make as a practicing nurse. On the one hand, it's good that you have a strong desire to make things right and do the best for your patient (thus the phone call to the unit and to your instructor). On the other hand, if you're going to have a long and successful career, you're going to have to avoid beating yourself up so harshly that a mistake becomes a paralyzing event.

    On the whole, I think you sound like a wonderful student and future nurse. Having gotten this kind of shock this early in your nursing career game, I'll bet you'll be one of those wonderful, super careful, on the ball nurses.
  9. by   november17
    Don't beat yourself up, that kind of error isn't that big of a deal. I did even worse, I'll tell you about it because it will make you feel better This happened to me on my next to last clinical day of my preceptorship in my last semester (roughly 2 weeks ago).

    In spiderman 2, there is this montage where Peter Parker quits being Spiderman, and they're playing "Raindrops keep falling on my head." Peter parker is doing awesome in school and cool stuff is happening because he's focusing on being Peter again.
    That was me. That day was simply perfect. My professor came by and we worked on my charting, and she said I was doing great - She was giving me the 3rd degree on my patients and I had all the right answers right off the top of my head. Bing bing bing knockin em down one after another. She went in with me on some head to toe / focused assessments, and followed me while I passed meds. I got all my meds passed (on time) and the assessments done. I was discharging and admitting - calling doctors - answering phones for the secretary -everything...all by myself, with an entire patient load, with no hitches. Seriously, I felt competent. It was great. I didn't get behind at all! Time was flying and I daresay it was halfway enjoyable.

    Needle flies RIGHT off the record! I missed a routine insulin dose in the morning. I missed it in the MAR, my instructor looked over the MAR and missed it (and she was hovering over me as I was filling that very page out), my preceptor (who doubles checks the meds I pass) missed it, the LPN missed it. All four of us missed it. I mean, seriously. I felt like a douche. It was a guy on a sliding scale, and his stick was 102 I notated it in the MAR looked at the sliding scale and thought, "great, he doesn't need insulin this morning." And moved on. Nope!! He got 8 routine units in the morning on top of the sliding scale. it was an 8am insulin dose and the **** didn't get caught until noon. His fingerstick for noon was 132, so it wasn't like he went hyperglycemic (too badly), but still...

    So I had to fill out a variance report. I made a med error. I couldn't believe it. All because the pharmacy happened to lay out the insulin in MAR a bit differently that day (fingerstick stuff at the top, sliding scale in the middle, routine dose at the bottom - it was completely opposite that day).

    I mean, it could have been worse...I could have given insulin to the wrong patient, or the patient could have been seriously hyperglycemic, or I could have given too much insulin.

    It wasn't even overconfidence, it was just not paying close enough attention, pure and simple.

    I went in and explained to the patient what happened. He was very cool about it and understanding. He even joked that he missed his morning insulin doses sometimes himself. But I still felt terrible. I had to pick myself up and keep flying though, because I still had 7 hours left. I felt like crawling into a corner and dying though.

    Those double, triple, and quadruple checks? I'll be doing them for the rest of my career!

    Quote from sshannon
    if you're going to have a long and successful career, you're going to have to avoid beating yourself up so harshly that a mistake becomes a paralyzing event..
    I agree with you.

    I was really shaken when the above happened. But I still had a lot ofit other patients that needed care. I realized that I couldn't just drop the ball because I made a mistake. It was very difficult to "put it in the past" when it had just happened 5 minutes ago though. Although quitting, going home, and failing is an option for a nursing student, when you're an RN it isnt!
    Last edit by november17 on Apr 21, '07
  10. by   locolorenzo22
    So, I got a med error as well last clinical on the floor. Patient had 2 different meds in her drawer that were both 50mgs....I grabbed one (didn't realize I had the wrong one-even after looking at my cheat sheet.), names are generics-not brand-will always put both on my sheets from now on.....Didn't give it, just went to instructor, said "i'm ready to check meds", checked through until that one, realized it was wrong and said "whoops, wrong pill" got right one, gave right one. Then saw in postconferance I was failing the day for meds...due to a "caught" med error.
    I felt horrible for a while, but then realized : A) I didn't give the wrong med. B)I caught myself and learn from it. C) Can't let instructors dictate how my clinical day goes.
  11. by   WDWpixieRN
    I had a med error mid-semester....won't go in to details, but it was noted in my mid-semester review and will carry on to my final eval.

    My instructor's take on it -- "You are a STUDENT nurse. You will have learned from this and shouldn't ever do it again." I hope she's right. I know I am meticulous about my meds now...and I have spent a lot of time shuddering over what might have been (neither were deadly errors, but it was the fact that they could have been)....and I hope they are the worst med errors I ever make...

    I have gotten over it; you will too. But keep this close at hand so you, too, will have it as a learning experience you will NEVER forget!! :icon_hug:
  12. by   Psqrd
    My med error never left the med room...I was drawing up insulin with my instructor and I had a insulin syringe that i was not familiar with. I was in my first semester and up to this point had only drawn up insulin in school lab, well anyway I had trouble seeing the lines on the syringe because of the safety sheath that slides over the needle after the injection. Well to make a long story short I pulled too much insulin into the syringe...my instructor looked at and goes "are you sure thats right?" I took a second look and immediatly corrected it...I got a Needs improvement on it. I'll never do that again...I beat myself up over it for a week! I talked to my instructor about it and she said; Those nurses that are hard on themselves are the ones that make good nurses...it's because they care! P
  13. by   kittagirl
    It happens, you're human, we all are and mistakes happen.
    When I 'had' students I never judges them for making a mistake but did for the way they reacted to it.
    The ones that were breezy and 'oh well you caught it no harm' set all my alarm bells ringing. (what would they have done if I hadn't caught it, what will they do when they don't have someone looking over their shoulder? )
    The ones who fell to pieces, less so, but still worried me.( Mistakes happen how will they cope if they make another one, and they aren't a student and don't have some one to pick up the slack and deal with their other patients?)

    The ones who admitted their error and did all they could to rectify it, like you, got a big thumbs up.
    You acted in a professional responsible manner, you acknowledged your error and acted on it, that's what I want from anyone who nurses me anyway.
    As said earlier it's happened, learn from it, and don't beat yourself with it.
  14. by   abundantjoy07
    Quote from Montessori Mommy
    I am sick about the whole situation. I feel horrible!! Although I'm a 3.92 GPA student with wonderful clinical evaluations, I feel like a failure. How do I get past this??
    You know, a nurse isn't defined by their GPA or their evaluations. They are defined by lessons learned. In 30 years you aren't going to remember your GPA or what you made on a particular test, you'll just remember mistakes made and lessons learned. Period.
    Also, book smarts is an entirely different area than real life clinical situation smarts. This has to be learned and sometimes learning can be a hard situation, but in the end you grow from it and continue on.

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