med error: i think im in trouble pls help!


last night, my night was good. better than my usual bad nights. for some reason i always have them. last night, actually this morning was not an exception. just when i thought i was doing better with my job.

6 am. time to give the last medications for the night. whew! what a relief. so i made my rounds. this one patient, her BP has been elevated the entire night. i kept rechecking her and i was getting in the 170s. kept paging the intern, no reply. i was able to give everyone their meds though. thats what i thought.

7 am, gave the change of shift report. i was finally home, in bed ready to have a nice 3-day off. then my cellphone rings. its the hospital. i thought maybe they're calling me to work tonight since its gonna be snowing. so i didnt pick up. i let them leave a message. ill call them when i wake up. left a message. i decided to listen to the vm anyway. it was my PCC (pt care coordinator). "...We're calling about this patient X, u took care of her last night, but i cant see where u signed for the ancef that u gave to her this morning please call me back." so i searched my brain, did i give it? i called her.

"Did u give her her dose of ancef this morning coz u didnt sign for it?"

"i think i gave it... actually im not sure.."

"you wanna call me back and think about it?"

"oh okay,. thanks thats a good idea. click."

****. i dont think i gave it. i was so focused with her BP. i didnt get to check if she had meds. and i left the medication on her cassette.


so i called back. told her about the BP issue.

"But what does her pressure have anything to do with her ancef? is there any reason why you didnt give it to her?"

i said the same reason.

"okay. bye-bye." click.

this pt. came in for cellulitis. and they just changed her vanco to ancef q8h.

okay. here's what i think would happen when i get back:

a) i get written up

b) ill get fired

c) they'll let it go (0.000000000000000001%)

so, here's my question/s:

what happens when u get written up?

what could be the worst that could happen?

is there a chance i will be fired?

or lose my license???

im really scared. i just started my career, and now what if it ends so quickly? im not scared, im terrified.

i need some advice, or anything pls. i havent slept for 50+ hours now. pls help.


8 Posts

Alot is going to depend on your hospital policy, but at my hospital an incident report is filled out and if no harm is done to patient then the incident report becomes a part of your file. If harm was done to patient then you would be in jepordy of being fired and or loss or suspension of license. However with it being ancef and only one dose missed, i feel that a incident report would be more likely to happen.

Hope this helps!


12 Posts

"the incident report becomes a part of your file."

what will this serve in the future? i guess its something bad. would it be like when other employers call they'll say, "oh she missed giving 1 dose of antibiotic.." or something? thanks again.. i guess ill be able to sleep a little bit now... THANKS!! (i am so sleepy that the word "file" kinda looked like "life" to me for a second there hehe.. i read again... haha silly me..)

Tweety, BSN, RN

32,747 Posts

Specializes in Med-Surg, Trauma, Ortho, Neuro, Cardiac. Has 31 years experience.

There will be an incident report that thats there was a missed dose which is a med error.

This is not the same as being "written up". People get the two confused. Getting written up is a disciplinary action. Missing a dose of medication does not warrent discipline if it's the first time.

Incident reports are not kept in your personnel file, but kept in risk management. The less copies the better.

You will not be fired, but might be "counseled", i.e. you manager tells you to be more careful.

What have you learned from this and how will you prevent it from happening again?

Hang in there.


124 Posts

Specializes in Emergency Department. Has 2 years experience.

Okay, BIIIIIIIIGGG deep breath let it out and try and relax :)

I really think you will be OK. Meds are missed sometimes and as long as there are no serious repurcussions (spelling? I've been up all night!) for the patient, which there shouldn't be with one missed abx dose, then I don't think you will be in much trouble. I agree with the above poster, that at most "counseling" is in order.

I am just finishing up my first year in Nursing, and I have by no means been perfect, with little errors here and there. One night I gave a patient a med they were allergic to, and i'm the one that wrote out the allergy list! (in my defense, it was solumedrol, given FOR allergic reactions!). That's one of the many mistakes I have made. From that incident (which I was not written up for, I wrote an incident report out myself for that one), I have become SO much more careful with giving meds. Things happen, and you learn from them. If they fired everyone for every small mistake, there would be VERY few nurses out there! Think of it as a learning opportunity and KEEP LEARNING!


191 Posts

Please do not continue to beat yourself up over this. Every nurse makes miltakes, we're only human after all. Your mistake was a very common one with little to no harm done. Don't make the same mistake I did. That is, spending the first 3-4 years as a nurse worrying about making a mistake and losing your license. Very few nurses lose thier licenses over medication errors. As long as you are doing your best (what a prudent nurse in your situation would do) you will always be doing the right thing. After 6 years in my career I am just now realizing that as long as I go to work and do the best job I can do, always being conscientious, there is no reason to worry. And I am finally able to leave my work at work. I hope your able to trust yourself and become comfortable sooner than I did, otherwise you might be headed for burnout city and other anxiety problems that many nurses suffer from. Hope this post helps relieve a bit of your stress. And another thing--get some rest!!!! Nothing is worth putting yourself into sleep deficit and possibly harming your health.


12 Posts

thanks so much guys!! well, i slept 12 hours after i read the posts. haha.. belated happy valentine's day!!:roll


5 Posts

I am a new LPN I do not haver a job yet but ya`ll made me feel better reading your replies! My mentor told me in so many words that I was a failure because I could not remember every drug I was giving to a gentleman, (there was about ten pills, and the very first time I set them up.) Ever since then I have feeling as though I can not be a nurse. We are human not computers


463 Posts

Specializes in Diabetes ED, (CDE), CCU, Pulmonary/HIV. Has 15 years experience.

You need a new mentor!. It is important to know the meds you give--action, side effects & major contraindications. But nobody said you can't keep a notecard on each pt. Or perhaps a card with info on meds frequently given on your floor. It just takes time.

Specializes in Critical Care, ER. Has 4 years experience.

I think if a manager came down too hard on me... I'd be like well, would you have preferred that she get the ancef but stroke out because I didn't do anything about her pressure? I would also voice some major concerns over the resident that was neglectful in his responsibility to call you back and a week chain of command that wasn't able to help you get results. I am just so sick and tired of nurses getting screwed for everything. You did some good critical thinking by prioritizing the pressure problem.

I think perhaps it was a little boo-boo not to at least tell the next nurse coming on that you didn't give the ancef (she could have given it then)

in a cellulitis patient... however if your manager is any good she'll simply explain that an incident report will be filed but that she's also going to follow up on your legitimate concerns. We've all forgotten something somewhere along the line... and more than once_ for me at least.

Let us know how it went.

At the better places I've worked, we always check the recent orders and kardexes at the end of shift so a med that hasn't been given is immediately found.


5 Posts

You know what? An instructor saw us interacting and felt my mentor was coming down too hard on me. I did get a new mentor. Ever since that experience though I have been beating myself up because I couldn`t memorize ten or so pills after seeing them for less then a minute. I will move on now thak you

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