Help I am a new grad and I made a medication error!

Nurses General Nursing


Help I am a new grad nurse just out of school working with my IP. I started working in a new grad program and my second day on the floor I made a major medication error. I gave medications to the wrong patient. I realized this when she questioned all the medications she was taking and what they were for after she had taken them, I completely froze told her I had to go get something and notified my preceptor. I was completely horrified I felt like my heart was going to jump out of my chest. I only had two patients that day it wasn't like I was strapped for time I was just stupid for not being more careful.

I pretty much started to cry and I wanted to quit nursing right then and there. I have never made a medication error in my life not even in school. My friends were often the ones to make mistakes not me. My confidence is completely shot. Everything has gone so well for me. My first day was great and then this happened. I don't know what to do I feel like quitting and not showing my face in that hospital again. I am crying as I write this just thinking about my mistake. My preceptor was really nice to me as well as everyone on the floor. Fortunatley the patient was stable and the medication that I gave her did not cause any side effects. I keep thinking to myself what if it was a patient who had allergies to this medication or what if I could have killed that patient. I never thought twice about telling someone what I did. I could never live with myself if I didn't. But I am ready to give up. I am even asking myself why I want to be a nurse maybe I will not make a good nurse. I feel like the next time I work everyone will be watching me waiting for me to make amother mistake. How can I stop thinking about this?



Welcome to the profession!!!!! And might I add that everyone has made mistakes...if anyone professes they haven't, they are either stretching the truth or have not done a day's or a night's work in the clinical setting!!!!!! Forgive yourself and remember that this was a lesson. We are only human. Be kind to others but be kind to yourself also!!!!!!!! :cool:

Rosey: The up side of this is you will most likely never make this type of error again. Figure out to a gnat's eyebrow how it happened so you can prevent it's happening again. I can't tell you how many times patients have saved my tush by telling me a pill looks unfamiliar, especially in this day of generics. If ANYONE questions a med I am passing, I double check it. When I give someone their meds, I make a practice of telling the patient the name of each medication and what it is for. (Unless it is a new med, in which case you will be explaining in detail what it is, who ordered it, and what it is for,) - 99% of patients will recognize an unfamiliar pill. I probably take longer to pass meds than most, but it's worth it for my peace of mind. The Universe has a way of teaching us lessons in little ways to save us from making really big mistakes. Take heart. This will make you a better nurse.;)


One thing that really helped my med passing, was to take the unopened packages and the MAR to the patient's bedside. After looking at the armband I then would say the name of every pill and lay them out on the overbed table. Then I'd take the MAR and put a tiny check next to each med as I gave it. Takes a bit longer especially when you have 15 or so patients, but it worked for me. PS no meds.

And I agree: I doubt there is ANY nurse who has NOT made a med error at one time or another. At least you caught yours, you didn't lie about it, you didn't cover it up. Plus don't you think you learned something? Forgive yourself though. There will be other days and other patients who will appreciate a careful nurse.

It is difficult to deal with making a mistake when you are in a human profession, such as nursing. I hope that it will be SOME comfort to you in knowing that when I was first out of nursing school (almost 20 years ago), I made the very same medication error--one patient's meds to another patient. I realized it as soon as I walked from the room. I WAS READY TO QUIT NURSING!

Go back to your basics. TRAMP. Check each and every medication for RIGHT time, route, amount, medication, and patient. If you do that--without fail--you will NEVER make another mistake.

Don't beat yourself up too much. We all make mistakes. The challenge is to grow from them.


I'm a new grad also and was working a few weeks ago with another nurse who had just finished school. The other new grad did something similar to what you did, she gave a pt someone else's pain med, and luckily like you no reation occured....

But the experienced RN that she was working with gave her advice that made her feel better, that helped me, and may help you.

She said that as bad that it is that it happened, she was "lucky" (lucky used very loosely here) that it happened this early in her career. And from that day on every time she gives a med she will be checking and rechecking just to make sure everything is correct.

Like everyone has said we all make mistakes and have to learn from them.

well like they say there are two kinds of nurses. those who've made med errors and those who will make med errors . as someone said it is good that you've made this mistake this early in your career and probably won't make it again. we all learn from our mistakes. my butt has been saved also many a time from pts who know their meds better than myself and have questioned a different pill or questioned why only one of this pill instead of two. it is best to take your time and not to rush medication passes because it could cause a sentinal event. what i question is those who give out meds in half the time that most nurses do. :eek: chalk it up, and move on, and take all the time you need for those med passes. it'll be alright and you'll get through this... ;)

I don't know if it will make you feel any better, but on my last clinical rotation my nursing instructor thought she would help a student out who was behind on her work. Well, she got all the patients meds together..alot of meds, including many cardiac meds and gave them to the pt. The student walked into the room and to her patient in A bed and said ," Your giving meds to Lucy's patient too?" My teacher pulled her aside and said "I thought you had bed B" Well, my teacher admitted she didn't read the patients wrist band. She reported it to the head nurse, filled out all the reports that were needed with a med error...and spent the rest of the day assessing this poor man. He was fine, which was a big relief. But it happens. I have also done something along these lines. I ran an IV of zantac in waaaayyyy to fast. Thank god is was Zantac and not something else, but I got yelled at and I was ready to quit nursing too. I was so nervous that I was going to hurt someone! I will never assume anything again!

Sorry So Lengthy!

Humbling, isn't it? I was shattered when I made my med error right after nursing school. Like you, I was always one consuling other students who had made mistakes. Nothing like a little smack of reality to get you more vigilant! You'll'll'll grow from this experience. Good luck in the future.:p

Welcome to the profession,

I have been where you are, I did the same thing as a new grad thought I was going to die thought my patient was going to die, but, I won't bore you with the all too familiar details, the important thing here is that you learn from your experience and you will not make the same medication error twice!!! I have never forgotten to look at a bracelet, mistakes happen no one is perfect the most important thing here is that you recognized the mistake and took responsibility for it!!!!!

The feelings you are having will pass and give nursing a chance!! This will help to build your character!!! Good-luck to you


I agree with the other posters. You have learned a good lesson quickly and you will be very careful in the future. Don't beat yourself up over it. Thank God no one was hurt and appreciate the lesson learned. We are only human and we do make mistakes. Believe it or not, you will be a better nurse because of this mistake. God Bless.

Specializes in NICU, Informatics.

When I got to my current floor, I hadn't worked with adults in over a year and had forgotten much of my basic skills... I repeatedly told my preceptor this, but she pretty much blew me off.. my med tech came to me and told me my patient's blood sugar was 200 something, dinner was being served so I hurried up, got the MAR ran to the med room, pulled up 30 units of regular insulin.. yes THIRTY units.., the MAR was written very badly, what was 3 Units, was written 3U and the U looked like a 0, and 3 units seemed awfully small. I told my preceptor I was giving the patient this insulin, she waved me off to go give it and I did.. 3 hours later I'm at home lying in bed and the night nurse calls me and did I really give this guy 30 units? I said us, the night nurse said it was for 3 units and the guy's BS was 40 something.. I nearly died right then and there...

I was very very fortunate and so was the patient, he didn't get ill, they gave him some OJ and he was good to go..

We all make mistakes.. I too only had like 3 patients that day, it happens, we're lucky when the patients are alright afterwards

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