How to get over when you finally "made a mistake"?

Nurses New Nurse



I am still a new RN and still training. But I finally made a mistake only after few months into the new job (made mistake taking out med from pyxis so I confused the pyxis and it wouldn't let me go forward. So had to ask someone else to call pharmacy etc etc to clear everything). It's a minor thing as told to me from the other nurses and of course this did not affect my patients in any way shape or form.

Then... after this event, I started missing other things in the same shift. Like forgetting to chart VS until like 30-45 mins after, forgot to chart I/Os, forgot to chart other things until someone pointed this out to me etc.

But since this is my first "mistake" (and not to mention as a newbie, I just held up the pyxis for like 20 minutes where no one else could get their meds) I just felt .... so new.

But I know that reality is, I need to be patient and learn from experience since I am still fresh out of school.

But my question is..... I still feel conflicted days after this little system "mistake" and I can't even think about bigger medical errors that would affect my patient!

So may I please ask: how do you emotionally get over making mistakes? How do you overcome the fear that you may make mistakes in the future?


1,101 Posts

Specializes in LTC, Rehab.

We all make mistakes. There was a long-running thread on med mistakes a while back, which essentially said 'if you say you haven't made any, either you just haven't yet or you're not admitting it'.

I think the key thing to do/learn after you've made a mistake, other than making sure no harm was done, is to think about what happened - why you made the mistake - and to change and/or improve whatever you were doing so that it doesn't happen again. And to not beat yourself up too much (although I think we all do that). Learn from it, and hopefully don't do it again.

Specializes in Critical Care, Education.

PP is 100% correct. Humans make mistakes. Nurses are human. Therefore, nurses will make mistakes. The key is to learn from your mistakes and consciously avoid taking the path of "risky behaviors" by skipping over steps in a process or cutting corners to save time or decrease effort.

However, that Pyxis problem is a SYSTEMIC/Organizational issue. They obviously know the way Pyxis functions. Your IT department should have a process for "real time" problem resolution for any technical issue that affects patient care.... and this is a biggie. Malfunction of any device or technology that affects clinical quality or safety should be "defcon one" for your IT folks. Any lesser response is just unacceptable. But it probably won't be fixed unless a relative of the CEO or Board Chair is told... "sorry, I can't get your pain med right now because we're waiting for IT to reset the Pyxis".


32 Posts

I think it's is so easy to make a mistake and sometimes you may not even realize the mistake. It's great if you can find the mistake on your own a 's figure out how you can avoid it in the future. Sometimes it's even better if a coworker finds a mistake, or you ask the coworker about your mistake, and they can give you constructive feedback. I feel like when I ask my coworker about a mistake I learn from it even better than those that I learn about on my own.


4 Posts

Even a mistake that has no unfortunate consequences, or even funny ones as in my case of the first mistake I made, can affect your self-confidence. The way I got over mine came through my DON, she said "you have a right to be here and doing this patient care; you earned it, took the exam, got your license. You know what you're doing even though it is not always going to feel that way. You are doing a job that not everyone can do. You got this."

My first mistake was a med error made at a part-time job I took in a long-term care facility (my main job was on a step-down unit). A LTC resident was misidentified to me by an aide. The resident did not have a name bracelet on, nor was her picture in the med book, so I relied on the aide's ID. I gave the resident a stool softener and an anti-depressant, which were supposed to go to a different patient. When I called the doctor to report the error, he said "sounds like she'll be giving a happy sh*t!" and he laughed! I laughed nervously, but I still felt the sting of the error. He told me to watch her the rest of the day. A few hours later, the resident, who was non-verbal, started talking up a storm! The staff couldn't believe it. I notified the DON that maybe she needed a med change, because the wrong meds sure seemed to have a positive effect on her!

Ruby Vee, BSN

17 Articles; 14,029 Posts

Specializes in CCU, SICU, CVSICU, Precepting & Teaching.

Everyone makes mistakes; absolutely everyone. Fortunately, most mistakes we make are either not serious or don't actually make it to the patient, but even when they DO make it to the patient, patients are amazingly resilient. What matters is what you do after you've made the mistake. There are a couple of threads about that -- here's one of them.

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