we learn from mistakes..no matter how bad

Students General Students


I once read a thread that was all about horror stories that student nurses had from clinical experiences. They described mistakes that they had made that could have seriously hurt or even killed pt's and they wrote about little mistakes they had done and the things they did to resolve the issue. They told about how they were afraid but went to the instructor and told them what they did and they told of the consequences to them and to the pt's. I can not find that thread anymore so I thought I would start a new one. I learn from reading these stories. I start cliniclas in the fall and I want to learn about things done by students good or bad so that we can all learn from them. Who knows, maybe this fall I will have some stories of my own to tell...


1,907 Posts

Specializes in OB, lactation.

I am not in clinicals yet so I can't report, but just FYI there is a similar "What's your worst mistake" thread in the general discussion as well.

wonderbee, BSN, RN

1 Article; 2,212 Posts

Specializes in critical care; community health; psych.

So far my worst mistake was cutting the tail on the suture of a central line when I went to d/c it. My instructor had to come to my rescue to do the delicate work of cutting the suture without cutting into the patient's skin. It's not that big a deal I realize but I have a long school and work career ahead and the road is wide open for uh-ohs along the way :uhoh3:


172 Posts

I am not in clinicals yet so I can't report, but just FYI there is a similar "What's your worst mistake" thread in the general discussion as well.

Ok that must be the one I could not find. I loved that thread and since I could not find it, I thought it was no longer available so I started this one. sorry. :)


172 Posts

I am not in clinicals yet so I can't report, but just FYI there is a similar "What's your worst mistake" thread in the general discussion as well.
Ok, just tried to find the thread titled "what's your worst mistkae" and I still can not find it. I typed in all the words in oreder and sepretely into the seacrh engine and still can not find it. Can someone help me locate this thread. It was so good. And if it is no longer active then I woudl love this thread to be a good one with lots of stories. :)


931 Posts

I'm in my second semester of an ADN program and so far the worst thing I did was pull out an I.V. without shutting it off first. Not too bad, but I gaurantee I'll never do it again.


230 Posts

Okay I am extremely detail oriented, so when giving meds ya know everything gets checked and rechecked and well you get the idea.....

So one day I have a dd/pt in an acute setting. Go through assessment, morning care, meds, his b/p falls, get the doc, doc says start normal saline, as an LPN student, the primary nurse had to start the IV. So all is well b/p goes up....

Breakfast tray is there. So I feed the patient. Nurse pops in the room and says "Oh did you get a diet order too from Dr. X?" My jaw drops. Pt is g-tube fed only! Has dysphasia, thank goddess it wasn't dyphagia...even soooo

Check pt, pt is fine didn't aspirate pudding. Tell my instructor. Instructor not used to me screwing up, she is trying not to laugh.

The aide was there with the pt, from the pt's LTC facility. She tells me not to worry the nurses at the LTC give him pudding all the time.

Lesson never feel complacent. Could have easily been a far more egregious/serious mistake. Just because I felt comfortable with my pt. :stone

All I could think of other than my patient's well being was a huge headline


Long way to go for a story I know....so thanks for sticking with me....

Be Well



66 Posts

We were at a local hospital doing our clinicals pt care medications etc. My day to pass medications. Did well at naming them and what they were used for etc. Went to pt room did checks again, instructor had to leave room for another student and told me to do third checks and give pt medications. Well dear little thing decides to drop most of medications on her bedside table and on floor. Picked them all up and she took them. A few hours later I was setting in the little room they had set aside for us do look at charts and do our paperwork when I look down on my clip board and see a little green pill setting there on the mechanism. I though oh ... now what do I do? Pondered it for awhile thought well I know who's pill it is (had clipboard in room while I was dispensing medications). Thought to myself what is the right thing to do.... I thought of the consquences and knew I should do right by my patient. Told instructor who in turn got very mad for not following medication protocol to make sure pt receives and takes all medications. She wrote me up and I was place on remediation. Very upsetting experience. Had me crying, Next day instructor told me of the above punishment, then proceeded to tell me that I showed good moral character in admitting what I had done wrong and coming to her with it, as I could have just as easily given the pt the pill and saved myself the anguish and punishment.


172 Posts

These are all good. keep em coming. I love to learn.

suzy253, RN

3,815 Posts

Specializes in Telemetry/Med Surg.

i think this might be the thread you're looking for:



63 Posts

This was my worst and kind of only mistake I made that could have hurt my pt. Our procedure is that we go to the floor and have to visit our patient before we assess their chart. Our Prof likes everyone to do vitals and a head to toe assessment before consulting the chart so that she knows our assessments are our own and not clouded by previous staffs results. Welllll.... I did my head to toe(checked skin, bowel sounds, circulation, O2 sat etc) except her areas covered by her gown which I assess during the bath that was coming next because it's a little intrusive for a student to come in and immediately start checkng every inch. So I figured I would wait 10 min for the bath and instead just felt her abdomen to check for distention and after I took vital signs. When I went into the room the first thing I did was check pts name band to secure that it was the correct pt, pt also had a pink band under her hospital name band. Now maybe a lot of you KNOW what that pink band around her wrist means but I had no idea. So by now you've proabably guessed ---I took BP in the arm that the woman had a masectomy some 10 years earlier. It was dangerous and it could have caused the pt a lot of pain. I didn't know the meaning of the pink band and its association with breast cancer --I assumed it was from her nursing home. It was stupid and if I just would have ASKED someone what that band was it would have saved me from taking BP in an arm that could have caused her severe inflammation. The combination of not being able to see her chart and not checking her chest --contributed to this error but when it comes down to it --I should have asked! Ironically, the next week we had two weeks of cancer lecture when we learned much about this and had a question on our exam where the answer is "the nurse would be sure not to take BP in the affected arm".


54 Posts

My biggest mistake so far is one we will all make...a med error. It was my second week (3rd actual day) on a renal/medical floor. Very complex patients. It was my first clinical rotation at this hospital (we have 4 in our city that we rotate through) I was unfamiliar with the computer printout and our instructor was newer too so she was learning some of the computer stuff right along with us students. Well, anyway, I did all the 5 rights, got the meds together and gave them with my instructor present at 8 am. When it came time to give 12 pm meds, a fellow student was observing my dispensing (counting, checking, rechecking) while I waited for instructor to come to watch me actually GIVE the meds. Well, the other student happened to work at this particular hospital. She told me that I didn't have enough pills, that on the computer readout a certain number indicated that was how many pills to give. Anyway...to make a long story short....I ended up UNDERdosing the poor patient. When he was to get 4 & 3 pills of EACH I only gave 1. I immediately told my instructor and then I burst into tears. She told me it was her fault for not explaining the paperwork clearly enough (coincidentally, another student did the same thing but she could fix her mistake since she had just given her meds) I did NOT get reprimanded from the school because ultimatley the instructor took responsibility since she didnt check on the quanitity of pills I was giving. Of course I felt like a total loser and then had to tell the nurse (who was a very good nurse but just didnt like students, not too personable) Anyway...I will always always always ask if I do not understand something no matter how silly the question may be. You can be sure that I will not forget this one! And that nurse, I ended up working with her again in the rotation, she was hard on me but I learned alot from her and my instructor commented in my evaluation that she was glad to see that I could maintain a professional relationship with her. So that made me feel good.

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