medication error and got fired..what to do now?


I just want to air out what I feel... I was employed in a Resthome & hospital facility, had 52 residents with 1 nurse on duty there's also an EN but her shift's end at 5pm. This happened on the afternoon shift 3p-11pm. I made a medication error by giving Trimethoprim 300mg bd p.o instead of od only, the morning RN has given it at 8am and i gave again at 5pm for 3 days in a row. I didnt realize my error in the 5th day when the morning RN told me during handover that she couldn't find the ABS bottle, although on the 4th day I just had this feeling of I might have done something wrong/ has not done something that I should have done but then it slipped of my mind because I was busy charting my notes I didnt have the time anymore to check my medication chart(which I should have done even if i'll stay longer at work) and still has to check the residents and do security check (close doors&windows) before starting the night shift handover. Anyway back to the 5th day I informed my Manager I made the medication errors and she called the doctor and I went to get the residents vital signs,the resident was fine there was no adverse reaction noted.(thank god she was fine) I filled up the IR. The next day my 6th day the business manager and clinical manager called me to the office as they want to know what happened so I told them what happened but the CM said that why would I not be able to know my error when it was clearly accurately written in the medication chart, then she said that I should have told/discussed with the night RN/doctor about the error so that they can monitor the resident(but how can i tell the night RN when I myself cant pinpoint yet what error I've done) anyway they then told me that they will report what happened to the NUrsing Council and they will do a diciplinary meeting, after a few days I was terminated.

I was so devastated about what happened esp with the medication error I have been a RN for more than 3 yrs in my country and coming to this new country just in my 5 month of working as an RN i made this error already and now my license is also at stake because Nursing Council wants me to go for competence review. Im still looking for a job right now but I dont know if I'll be able to get one because of my status right now. I just dont understand my managers why do they have to report it to NUrsing Council when I have another collegue who had given another residents anti seizure meds to another residents twice but she was not reported. And that a few days after the error the residents trimethoprim was stopped and was changed to another antibiotic because her UTI was not responding to it... oh i just dont know what to do anymore should i just go home back to my country or just stay put and go on with the competence review? i just cant stay here long enough as my savings are running out but how can i get a job with my status right now.:confused::crying2:

Specializes in PICU, ICU, Hospice, Mgmt, DON. Has 18 years experience.

What country are you in? This seems rather harsh to me, not to mention that 50 patients to 1 nurse is BEYOND dangerous...were you not even verbally warned? or written up? I would never want to work under those conditons ever! It doesn't sound like there were any adverse affects from the medication, and while it was an error, the conditions were unsafe. The facility should be held accountable in part.

Are you in the USA?


6 Posts

hi nope im in new zealand


352 Posts

Hi fharzy8, hopefully someone from New Zealand (I'm in Australia) will be able to have some input but this seems REALLY harsh.

What country are you from originally? Have there been any other problems or difficulties with your work at the home? Do you get on with your co-workers? I'm only asking because it seems unbelievable that this could happen.


44 Posts

Has 10 years experience.

Are you with the union? (New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO))

If not, join them ASAP they will be able to help you.

tyvin, BSN, RN

1,620 Posts

Specializes in Hospice / Psych / RNAC.

Where are you from? I don't know about the steps the nurses in NZ take when an error is recognized but as you say the other nurse didn't receive such harsh treatment. It sounds outrageous to me.

Hopefully someone from NZ can comment.


98 Posts

Specializes in mental health + aged care.

Also, it seems really weird to give Trimethoprim in the morning, it's usually given od nocte... And the number of residents to one nurse is excessive! I'm also in aged care (only for two more weeks though) and have a workload that's acknowledged as being high - at 36 hospital residents. (While I am still responsible for the 21 rest home residents as well, their meds are delegated to an EN or med comp HCA). Doing medication for 52 residents is excessive.

Don't know what advice to give about the review, except to reiterate what TheMiss said about joining the NZNO if you aren't already and contacting them if you are. Your membership with them is your indemnity insurance


28 Posts

Specializes in mental health, medical, emergency,commun.

:coollook:thats crazy, that nursing home should be brought to account, its abusive and wrong

that sort of treatmen:eek:t


65 Posts

oh dear. I don't know what to say but I wish you to be strong and reflect about what happened in order to prevent this error in the future. I hope you are an NZNO member as they can provide legal assistance in your behalf. All the best and sorry to hear about the lost of your job. :(

Specializes in Med/Surg, DSU, Ortho, Onc, Psych.

I'm not in NZ so can't speak for their rules.

If you made this error 3 times, I would say you need to analyse your clinical practice closely. What were the factors for you making your mistakes? Was it time management? Were you unfamiliar with the meds? Did u feel others were rushing you? I've always stayed back to check my meds anyway and I NEVER, EVER rush medications, despite what others nag me to do. I have not made any errors that I am aware of, because I follow best clinical practice, despite what others say. You have to be responsible for your OWN practice and professional judgement despite how others nag you to the contrary.

You need to ask the council if you can do a medication refresher course, though you will probably be on probation anyway.

There is no point in saying 'such and such did this error twice & why weren't they disciplined?' You need to focus on your own practice, not others. What they do and don't do isn't your concern. You will just tie yourself in useless knots feeling resentful about it. Get over it.

Contact the council and ask what you can do to make up for this error. Find out re their procedures. Do a written statement and hand it in to them with your side of the story as well.

Try to focus on the future and stay positive too.


1,787 Posts

Has 25 years experience.

Please all nurses from overseas that come to New Zealand or Australia, note: JOIN the nurses union, KNOW quality of care rights and aged care regulations before you work anywhere.

ps. you will pass a competency test and you will never be in this position to continue, without money, check with nursing council if you can do agency work....... only you can make this decision.

Hi your post prompted me to join. I am a new zealand nurse working in a resthome. I Think you have been treated unfairly especially as trimethoprim is a nocte medication. Making you less at fault. that being said it also sounds like a systems error which hopefully the nursing council will take into account and you will be offered a supportive environment for continuing your nursing practice.