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I made a mistake!


So I made a mistake. I been a nurse on a cardiac unit for two years. And two of my patient were supposed to be going to have a tunneled dialysis catheter placed. Usually if I’m not 100% sure about anything I will ask. However, for some reason I thought a patient did not have to be NPO for this procedure. Also, there was no orders for them to be NPO. And now I feel so dumb because I know I should have known that. And now I feel like my coworkers think I am stupid and a bad nurse. How do I come back from a mistake like that.  Because I feel like on our unit they make nurses make you  feel real bad  about making mistakes.

Been there,done that, ASN, RN

Has 33 years experience.

There should have been set orders for that basic procedure. If the patient needed  to be NPO it should have been clearly written out in the pre -op orders entire procedure.

 Stop beating yourself  up.


2 hours ago, DH1234 said:

And now I feel like my coworkers think I am stupid and a bad nurse.

Forget what they think.

Going to correct you just a little 😬 -- if you were going to feel off about anything it would be your patients' procedures being delayed. Not what coworkers might think.

How do you come back? Don't sulk with your tail between your legs/shy away from people as if you deserve to be the object of scorn. If the topic comes up just say, "Now I know" or "Learned something new" or even "I'm not sure how I didn't know that before...but I do now."  The more straightforward you are about basic things, the less room for people to make a big deal of it. 👍🏽

Carry on!


Specializes in Long term care; med-surg; critical care. Has 9 years experience.

21 hours ago, DH1234 said:

And now I feel so dumb because I know I should have known that. And now I feel like my coworkers think I am stupid and a bad nurse.

You have two years of experience and you made a mistake. Simple as that. Don't read any more into it. There wasn't an order, you don't have the time to catch everything that isn't done by someone else. And if your coworkers are going to think less of you for one mistake, there's something wrong with them, not you. You'll move on by going to work, not dwelling on it, and being the same nurse you've always been- with one additional learning experience. Give yourself a break. 


Specializes in Urgent Care, Oncology. Has 7 years experience.

We just finished the Peacock series Dr. Death yesterday based on a true story. The documentary about this guy is coming out soon, and there is a good podcast about him. Chris Duntsch.

Anytime you're feeling silly about an honest mistake, think about this man. He purposely operated on 40 patients, injuring 31 and killing 2. He either knew his skills were subpar or he harmed them on purpose; either way, he still went through with it every time. He was convicted of elder abuse (one of his patients was over 65) and is now spending 30 years in jail. There are people out there that truly mean to harm someone. What you did was a minor mistake, no harm was done, and maybe some patients waited a bit longer because of it. Don't beat yourself up. Every nurse has made a mistake, some minor and/or major. They're lying if they say they haven't. You realize it, learn from it, and move on. 

kbrn2002, ADN, RN

Specializes in Geriatrics, Dialysis. Has 19 years experience.

I wouldn't even qualify what you did as a mistake. It was a simple lack of knowledge. So this wasn't a mistake, it was just something new for you to learn. Now you've learned it so don't beat yourself up for not knowing what you didn't know. 

Not your fault the order wasn't written for the patient to be NPO, if anything the mistake was made by the MD who failed to place the order. Now that you know this is a thing when/if it happens again you'll know to question if there should be NPO orders written. 

Even if the NPO status is a standard order for this procedure the expectation that every nurse should know this and recognize the NPO orders need to be obtained is yet again putting the responsibility on nursing to not only do their own job but to be responsible for making sure everybody does their jobs also.