Getting over mistakes


Today my manager called me to inform me that I had made a careless mistake last night on my shift as a CNA. It was not a mistake that involved patient care, but a mistake that caused some expense to the organization due to equipment. This is my second major mistake as a CNA in three years. The first one happened earlier this year and could have cost me $5,000 due to carrying a patient's possession home in my pocket. Thankfully I called right away when I realized it and the possession was not damaged. But I narrowly avoided a write-up.

Although neither of these mistakes endangered patients, when they happened I felt crushed. Both were such careless mistakes, probably because I was out of routine or trying to hurry. It makes me wonder whether or not I should be responsible for patients and makes me doubt my own abilities in nursing.

I feel like in this job, mistakes are so much more risky because they involve people's lives. I am afraid one day I will forget something or get too comfortable and careless. How do you handle making a mistake in nursing? How do you prevent mistakes from happening?

xtxrn, ASN, RN

4,266 Posts

The best thing you can do is lighten up on yourself, and learn from the mistakes. Slow down, empty your pockets at the end of the shift, and do your best.... :)

Poi Dog

1,134 Posts

Sometimes being so focused on not making a mistake can cause a person to inadvertently make more mistakes. I know, I know that sounds like a fortune cookie but to an extent it's true.

When you go in apologize and say that it will not happen again. Just take whatever verbal lashings you may get and move forward. Don't be so hard on yourself. You said that neither mistake endangered a patient. That's what counts.


18 Posts

Has 3 years experience.

We all are human and we all make mistakes at times. The important part about making a mistake is learning from it. I worked as a CNA on an extremely busy DOU unit for two years as my first CNA job. I too made mistakes like yourself. I also got down on myself and questioned my nursing abilities. The fact that you are so concerned is good. It means you care and want to do better. When I did make mistakes as a CNA, I talked with my husband, family or a friend about what happened. Once I did, I usually felt better. I saw things in a different perspective and they made me realize it wasn't the end of the world after all. Sometimes that's all you need is someone to tell you it's ok. After I learned from my mistakes, I thought about how I could prevent making those mistakes again. It all came down to slowing down and double, triple, and sometimes quadruple checking my work. Don't beat yourself up. Learn from it and move on. :)

tyvin, BSN, RN

1,620 Posts

Specializes in Hospice / Psych / RNAC.

Wait till you take the house keys and the narc keys home with you and then fall asleep after turning off the phone's ringer (lol). Lighten up ... management gets so fired up about their precious equipment; never mind. Learn from your encounters and carry on.


5 Posts

Nobody was hurt as a result of your mistakes. Hopefully, that helps somewhat. But I understand the disapointment you are feeling in yourself. You will learn from your mistakes. Making mistakes is part of what makes us human.

To answer one of your questions: You prevent mistakes from happening by anticipating things that can go wrong and taking measures to prevent it from happening. also, you prevent mistakes from happening by learning from past mistakes and the mistakes of others. For example, my sister had a needlestick..yes a needle-stick[!] during her second year of nursing school. Luckily, she was fine but, boy did I learn from her when I went through nursing school!! and, it hasn't happened to her since and hopefully never ever again!

don't give up! chalk it all up to being human and move forward!

fuzzywuzzy, CNA

1,816 Posts

Specializes in LTC. Has 3 years experience.

One time I hit a water fountain with a food truck and made a big crack down the middle of the wall. If I had been caught I surely would have been written up!

Dorali, BSN, LPN, RN

1 Article; 471 Posts

Specializes in 6 yrs LTC, 1 yr MedSurg, Wound Care. Has 12 years experience.

Learning from your mistakes & even passing it on to others is one of the best things you can do. We've all been there, believe me! I am more careful with my residents than I am with the equipment. If you have to, take a step back before you walk away and do one more look around the room, etc. I've caught a lot of things that way and it only takes a second.

I had a woman in the lift one time and she is stiff from head to toe. As I moved her from the bed to the gerichair, she started sliding out the end!! Luckily, I had a co-worker in there with me so we managed, but that situation has kept me from using a lift alone. It could have been a life or death situation, but I learned from it.


298 Posts

Specializes in LTC/Rehab.

This is a good topic.

Yesterday, I was using the hoyer with someone else who is somewhat new like me. We forgot to cross the hoyer pad under the resident, so when we lifted him up he began to slide out! I was so petrified. He ended up in the chair, but the entire hoyer pad had sliden out from underneath him! But I am more and more cautious with that lift and that pad.

Every day I leave work I think about what I may have forgotten or did wrong. But I realize that doesn't make any sense. So I'll do what was suggested: check out each room before I leave... making sure everything is nice, neat, and safe.

Specializes in Hemodialysis.

During the first couple months working at my new job I can't count how many feeding tubes I left unplugged/clamped/or hooked up wrong. WHAT A MESS!

But I haven't left one unhooked for a while now (Knock on wood). Probably learned my lesson from all the extra complete bed changes I had to do.


156 Posts

Specializes in CNA.

We are all humans and each one of us will make errors. However I feel like you shouldn't be too hard on yourself. The best thing is to try to not make the same mistake twice. You will be fine just focus on the positive things that you do :)


38 Posts

Specializes in CNA2: Acute Care, Orthopedics.

I would just be glad that no pts. where endangered as a result. People don't usually judge you on your mistakes, but the way that you react to those mistakes and what you learn and apply. Keep moving forward but forgive your self or you'll never be able to move forward. Go to work each day with a clear head and know that "today is a new day."

There are countless things that I've done that I wish I could go back and undo, mistakes either from hurrying or being too stressed. I've learned that you do learn from that and in the begining you'll have a certain tolorance for stress and as you go on in your career you're tolorance will get greater and greater and you will be able to handle more and more. Also with that the more confident you will get.