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My nursing error; shame and struggling

Nurses   (2,268 Views 15 Comments)
by joansmith1 joansmith1 (New) New

joansmith1 has 7 years experience .

357 Profile Views; 10 Posts

I recently made my first real nursing error/mistake of my career. There was no harm to the patient (thankfully) and they were never in any jeopardy (again, thankfully). I was able to quickly identify the factors that led to my making this mistake. I have learned a valuable lesson and know I will be a better nurse because of it.

What I am struggling with is the shame of making such an error and how I handled it. I didn't handle it with the integrity that I thought I had. I'm sure the shock and fear of what happened impacted my judgement on how I handled it but that is no excuse. I'm sure I will eventually forgive myself for the error since I know what caused it and I've learned from it. But I'm not sure how I can forgive myself for how I handled it.

I walk around work feeling like everyone knows what happened. I don't even want to show my face. I don't know how this will impact me at work. I'm truly mortified over the whole thing. I'm curious if anyone has had a similar experience and how you handled it.

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Davey Do has 35 years experience and specializes in Psych, CD, HH, Admin, LTC, OR, ER, Med Surge.

15 Followers; 1 Article; 6,341 Posts; 78,646 Profile Views

I'm sure I will eventually forgive myself for the error since I know what caused it and I've learned from it. But I'm not sure how I can forgive myself for how I handled it.

We are human beings who are sometimes our own worse enemy, prone to mistakes and misgivings.

Ralph Waldo helps me in times such as this:

"Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense."

Nobody ever said learning and growth would be easy. This is just another thing you have to work through, joansmith.

The best to you.

Oh- and welcome to AN.com!

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Pepper The Cat has 33 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Gerontology.

2 Followers; 1,712 Posts; 24,661 Profile Views

Look. Mistakes happen. That is why the eraser, white out and the back up key all exist.

Look at your error. Learn from it.

And do your best not to do the same mistake again.

Errors happen. We are human.

Don't beat yourself up.

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Here.I.Stand has 16 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in SICU, trauma, neuro.

1 Follower; 4,935 Posts; 42,555 Profile Views

(((Hugs))) Fear is a powerful thing... and every one of us has done things we wish we hadn't. This one happens to be in the course of your work. Be kind to yourself.

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nikegirl09 has 1 years experience.

26 Posts; 469 Profile Views

Yes, I did make a really serious mistake (fortunately the patient outcome was not negative, even though I was fired) early in my career- 1st job, 1st med pass. I was absolutely mortified and embarrassed by my mistake, and I will never forget the feeling- like my heart fell into my stomach. The things that helped me make it through were prayer and prioritizing patient safety over however I was feeling about the situation. As soon as I realized my mistake, I reported it, and took the appropriate actions to try to fix it. And I also reflected on factors that led up to the mistake. Yeah I got looks of judgement from some staff and what not, but I shudder to think of what might have happened if I had hidden in shame, or tried to cover up/or ignore what happened. So even though I'm not proud of making a potentially dangerous mistake, I am proud of the way I handled it; it made forgiving myself a lot easier. So my advice is if you make a mistake, step back, breathe and pray (for yourself and the patient);this will help you find more integrity as it can be difficult to muster in trying times. I know you feel bad about the way you might have handled it this time, but take it as a learning experience and be glad the outcome was ok. Next, report your mistake and try to remedy it as soon as you become aware. Reflect on what led up to the mistake and how you will do better in the future. All of this will help you forgive yourself and feel more confident in the future- at least it helped me. I certainly have never made that mistake again!

Edited by nikegirl09

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Crush has 13 years experience and specializes in Case manager, float pool, and more.

462 Posts; 3,993 Profile Views

((( hugs ))) I know you are feeling bad about right now. Mistakes happen and the main thing is no harm to the patient. Learn from what happened and then take steps to move on. We can only do the best we can with what we know and what is available to us at the time. And still, mistakes happen cause we are human. Be gentle with yourself.

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nikegirl09 has 1 years experience.

26 Posts; 469 Profile Views

It might seem hard right now, but in time you will get to feeling better. The best thing you could really do in your situation is just come up with a positive course of action in the future for patient safety, organization, or whatever and use your feelings of guilt to handle any future mistake in a better way. The more you dwell on your mistake and your actions, the longer it's going to take to get over it. Just work on shifting your thinking to how you can make the present and future better so you can leave the past behind you. You have no control over the past. Take comfort in the fact that the patient is ok and that you know how to do better next time. If your coworkers see you recovering positively and having a great attitude after your mistake, they will forget about it quicker too.

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Ruby Vee has 40 years experience as a BSN and specializes in CCU, SICU, CVSICU, Precepting & Teaching.

11 Followers; 66 Articles; 13,948 Posts; 171,779 Profile Views

I recently made my first real nursing error/mistake of my career. There was no harm to the patient (thankfully) and they were never in any jeopardy (again, thankfully). I was able to quickly identify the factors that led to my making this mistake. I have learned a valuable lesson and know I will be a better nurse because of it.

What I am struggling with is the shame of making such an error and how I handled it. I didn't handle it with the integrity that I thought I had. I'm sure the shock and fear of what happened impacted my judgement on how I handled it but that is no excuse. I'm sure I will eventually forgive myself for the error since I know what caused it and I've learned from it. But I'm not sure how I can forgive myself for how I handled it.

I walk around work feeling like everyone knows what happened. I don't even want to show my face. I don't know how this will impact me at work. I'm truly mortified over the whole thing. I'm curious if anyone has had a similar experience and how you handled it.

I was involved in a sentinel event that had a very bad outcome for the young woman who was the patient. There was a whole string of errors by a whole string of nurses, NPs and MDs that contributed to the event, but I was the one responsible for the patient when all of the mistakes caught up with her and things turned rapidly and irreversibly south. I beat myself up for months. My colleagues all knew about the event, of course, and there was a lot of talking behind my back -- even a decade later. I could barely hold my head up enough to find my way back to work the next day, and then there was a series of inquiries. I don't know if the other folks in the chain of errors were also subject to the same feelings of shame, feelings of incompetence or the inquiries. I only know that I was, and it was horrible. I heard second hand about M & M Rounds -- where the physicians and NPs who contributed to the series of errors that caused the event blames me, personally for the whole debacle. I was mortified, but I, too felt that I was to blame, that *I* should have caught the errors, that *I* should have been able to figure out what was going on. I blamed myself for years and years, and I still wake up in the middle of the night sometimes, wracked with guilt.

How did I handle it? By blaming myself even long after the inquiries revealed that I wasn't the only person to blame. How would I advise you to handle it? Not the way I did.

Journaling helps. Write for at least 20 minutes, even if you don't know what to say. Keep writing "I don't know what to say" until you realize that you're pouring out all of your feelings in your writing -- and that you didn't even know what you were feeling until you found yourself writing about it. Some will tell you to pray, and if that's your thing, do so. It's taken me years and years to figure out that the journaling probably accomplishes the same things for me that asking God achieves for others. So do either or do both.

Accept your part in the mistake. Be accountable. Be responsible. OWN your mistake. And learn from it. And hold your head up because there isn't a single one of us out there who hasn't made a mistake. No one is perfect. Even if they swear up and down they've never made a mistake, they have. No one is perfect. No one. My mistake -- and the mistakes of many others -- was so much worse than yours because of the horrible outcome.

And forgive yourself. For me, that was the hardest part. But it is necessary because as long as you keep beating yourself up over it, you're harming yourself. And you're more likely to make more mistakes because of it.

I hope me baring my soul has helped!

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nikegirl09 has 1 years experience.

26 Posts; 469 Profile Views

I was involved in a sentinel event that had a very bad outcome for the young woman who was the patient. There was a whole string of errors by a whole string of nurses, NPs and MDs that contributed to the event, but I was the one responsible for the patient when all of the mistakes caught up with her and things turned rapidly and irreversibly south. I beat myself up for months. My colleagues all knew about the event, of course, and there was a lot of talking behind my back -- even a decade later. I could barely hold my head up enough to find my way back to work the next day, and then there was a series of inquiries. I don't know if the other folks in the chain of errors were also subject to the same feelings of shame, feelings of incompetence or the inquiries. I only know that I was, and it was horrible. I heard second hand about M & M Rounds -- where the physicians and NPs who contributed to the series of errors that caused the event blames me, personally for the whole debacle. I was mortified, but I, too felt that I was to blame, that *I* should have caught the errors, that *I* should have been able to figure out what was going on. I blamed myself for years and years, and I still wake up in the middle of the night sometimes, wracked with guilt.

How did I handle it? By blaming myself even long after the inquiries revealed that I wasn't the only person to blame. How would I advise you to handle it? Not the way I did.

Journaling helps. Write for at least 20 minutes, even if you don't know what to say. Keep writing "I don't know what to say" until you realize that you're pouring out all of your feelings in your writing -- and that you didn't even know what you were feeling until you found yourself writing about it. Some will tell you to pray, and if that's your thing, do so. It's taken me years and years to figure out that the journaling probably accomplishes the same things for me that asking God achieves for others. So do either or do both.

Accept your part in the mistake. Be accountable. Be responsible. OWN your mistake. And learn from it. And hold your head up because there isn't a single one of us out there who hasn't made a mistake. No one is perfect. Even if they swear up and down they've never made a mistake, they have. No one is perfect. No one. My mistake -- and the mistakes of many others -- was so much worse than yours because of the horrible outcome.

And forgive yourself. For me, that was the hardest part. But it is necessary because as long as you keep beating yourself up over it, you're harming yourself. And you're more likely to make more mistakes because of it.

I hope me baring my soul has helped!

So sorry to hear you've been going through this. It has to be hard. I'm glad you found a great way for you found a great way for you to cope and manage it. I feel like going through nursing school and being a nurse has not only been beneficial to society, but also beneficial to me personally because its forced me to learn a lot about myself, and about coping and life skills that I might otherwise not have learned. Mistakes are going to happen to all of us, but we have to learn to manage them and work through their effects, whether it is journaling, praying, scriptures, or something else. Because we are all imperfect and live in an imperfect world, we all kind of suffer from PSTD at some level. One scripture in particular that gives me hope and comfort for painful memories is Isaiah 65:17.

Edited by nikegirl09

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Davey Do has 35 years experience and specializes in Psych, CD, HH, Admin, LTC, OR, ER, Med Surge.

15 Followers; 1 Article; 6,341 Posts; 78,646 Profile Views

Journaling helps. Write for at least 20 minutes, even if you don't know what to say. Keep writing "I don't know what to say" until you realize that you're pouring out all of your feelings in your writing -- and that you didn't even know what you were feeling until you found yourself writing about it. Some will tell you to pray, and if that's your thing, do so. It's taken me years and years to figure out that the journaling probably accomplishes the same things for me that asking God achieves for others. So do either or do both.

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bgxyrnf has 10 years experience as a MSN, RN and specializes in Med-Tele; ED; ICU.

1,208 Posts; 10,915 Profile Views

I've been there.

I have few words of wisdom but I will tell you that I am smart, diligent, meticulous, thoughtful, and careful; I was and am well thought of by my colleagues in nursing, medicine, pharmacy, and respiratory therapy; many people would, I think, be shocked to learn of my mistake - and yet there I was - at the end of a string of failures and I took an action which I should not have taken.

I share with you the forgoing to remind you that you are still precisely the person and nurse that you were prior to the error - albeit a more seasoned one. I encourage you to challenge your shame with the knowledge that we all make mistakes and that doing so doesn't mean that you're incompetent or less a nurse somehow - despite how some people might choose to see you and how punitive and vindictive the system can be.

This I will say categorically: In a critical situation, I would choose the nurse who has made a serious error over one of his/her colleagues who chooses to believe that *they* would *never* do something like that.

I like Davey Do's quote. To it I will add a reference to the book of Lamentations (3:22-23) which refers to the mercies of the Lord being made new every morning. Regardless of one's personal faiths and philosophies, I think this is a universal truth if you consider the restorative wonders of sleep and sunrise. As you rise every morning, remind yourself that you are not your mistake - and that mistakes are generally the result of multiple causative factors... and not simply the failure of a nurse.

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Medic/Nurse is a BSN, RN and specializes in Flight, ER, Transport, ICU/Critical Care.

880 Posts; 14,954 Profile Views

I'm sorry this is difficult for you.

I think a lot of programs may be setting up the expectation that perfection will be the your immediate result in clinical practice. There is no reason to beat yourself up.

I think most nurses make a med error at some point in their career - recognized, admitted or not.

I think it is reasonable to expect diligence, accountability and excellence - but, not perfection.

Now, I do not mean that your practice will be mistake driven - I certainly hope that it is not.

There is a lot of focus on med errors, but there are "mistakes" that are not med errors that are quite deadly.

Most all nurses have or will make a mistake. It's not that uncommon. How you handle the mistake matters.

1. Take care of the patient.

2. Take care of the patient. Notify who needs to know.

3. Take care of the patient. Proceed per policy.

4. Take care of patient and you. You will survive.

It sounds like you did it right way, and that is great, but now you have a choice - just process it and learn from it or get stuck. I'd recommend what the esteemed RV does with journaling - pour it out on paper - every time you start ruminating on it. You will work through it. OK, you lost a bit of confidence for a bit, don't lose the lesson here. Come out stronger.

:angel:

Edited by Medic/Nurse

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