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Nurses Med error..How can we help?

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McLewis83 McLewis83 (New) New

I work with an nurse who has been a nurse for 40 years and an awesome one at that. She advocates for her patients, she provides excellent patient care, she precepts new nurses she really is an exceptional role model of a nurse.

The hospital we work in has been chronically understaffed and us nurses have repeatedly been "abused" with unsafe assignments and maximum patient load with no CNAs to assist and a measly equipment tech that we could probably do without.

Well this nurse made a med error, she gave a patient with a normal calcium level an additional dose of calcium as she mistakenly thought this patients calcium level was low (she was actually suppose to give it to her other patient). Well the patient ended up having a cardiac rhythm change which prompted her to notify the physician and she then came to the conclusion she had created a med error. The patient ended up ok after it was all said and done.

The nurse manager, risk management, patients family and administration were all notified of this error and have been investigating what they are calling "pop up fatigue". This nurse who has NEVER done anything like this before is now on the chopping block of losing her job and possibly being reported to the board of nursing and losing her license. This makes me nauseated thinking about this because it could have easily happened to any nurse on this unit as we are all overworked and understaffed.

My question is: Is there anything we nurses can do to speak to her character and work ethic? Should us nurses write letters to administration or whoever and describe the work situations and how this could happen to any of us? Is there anything we can do to help her at this point??

I don't know if it helps but I would absolutely write a professional appraisal of the overall professionalism and expertise of this RN.

EVERYONE makes errors in life.

The employer wants to dump her for someone who costs them less money per year and doesn't get as much paid time off would be my guess.

It is nice that our employers expect undying devotion to their best interests while they have zero devotion to us as faithful employees.

Esme12, ASN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care, ED, Cath lab, CTPAC,Trauma. Has 41 years experience.

Write the letters.....give copies to the nurse. It probably wont matter to the admin she's high paid and seasoned they will probably dump her. It makes me sick.

chiandre

Specializes in EDUCATION;HOMECARE;MATERNAL-CHILD; PSYCH. Has 25 years experience.

If the hospital is going to report her to the State Board, she should hire an attorney to protect her license...preferably a lawyer with a nursing background. If they end up firing her, she can sue the hospital for adverse working conditions that caused her to make the error.

Every nurse should have a malpractice insurance. In some states, you can protest assignments and short staffing.

I hope everything works out for this nurse.

NRSKarenRN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Vents, Telemetry, Home Care, Home infusion. Has 44 years experience.

From the Institute for Safe Medication Practices

Should a healthcare practitioner be disciplined for being involved in an error?

Medication errors are rarely the result of one person making an error, but rather a series of system failures that allowed an error to occur. Analysis of medication errors should include looking at the system causes of medication errors to prevent future events and evaluating the behavior of the staff involved in the medication error

Edited by NRSKarenRN

LadyFree28, BSN, RN

Specializes in Pediatrics, Rehab, Trauma. Has 10 years experience.

If the hospital is going to report her to the State Board, she should hire an attorney to protect her license...preferably a lawyer with a nursing background. If they end up firing her, she can sue the hospital for adverse working conditions that caused her to make the error.

Every nurse should have a malpractice insurance. In some states, you can protest assignments and short staffing.

I hope everything works out for this nurse.

THIS.

I hope everything goes well with your co-worker, even if she had to seek out legal advice.

Esme12, ASN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care, ED, Cath lab, CTPAC,Trauma. Has 41 years experience.

One of the BEST reasons ALL NURSES should carry malpractice

imintrouble, BSN, RN

Specializes in LTC Rehab Med/Surg. Has 16 years experience.

Write the letters.....give copies to the nurse. It probably wont matter to the admin she's high paid and seasoned they will probably dump her. It makes me sick.

Give the copies to the nurse. Absolutely. When she's feeling lower than a snake, she can pull those letters out and find comfort in the support of her fellow nurses.

The worst part of being fired is the shame and the isolation.

SeattleJess

Specializes in None yet..

Your nurse should talk to an attorney immediately, if not sooner.

If there are grievance procedures at your workplace, she might want to file one. As pointed out, medical errors are rarely the result of one person's mistake. It's just easier (and less expensive) to target an employee than to address overall system problems.

She is blessed to have decent and caring colleagues who recognize that this mistake didn't happen in a vacuum and could happen to them because the system is still broken.

The advice about malpractice insurance is excellent. "Malpractice" sound so evil but it is only human error. Negligence can be the lapse of attention that every single one of us makes. One of the best, most respected lawyers in my community told me, "EVERYONE commits malpractice." I believe that's true. With luck there is no harm or small harm that can be corrected.

Wishing the best to your colleague. She will need your support. Don't lose track of her, don't let her isolate and get a falsely negative perspective.

Only by the Grace of God I go..... I'm praying for that nurse. So sad that the hospital is so quick to throw nurses under the bus.

TriciaJ, RN

Specializes in Psych, Corrections, Med-Surg, Ambulatory. Has 40 years experience.

I take it you're not unionized, so there are no unsafe staffing report forms. No matter. You can use blank paper to protest your patient assignments. Every nurse should be doing this every time staffing is short. Make a copy for yourself, your manager, HR, BON, and whomever licenses or accredits your facility. Make sure everyone knows who else has a copy. If you and your coworkers start doing this now, it can go a long way toward protecting the nurse in question. She can use these documents along with the references you all give her.

She might want to contact the BON herself and give them a heads up. They may turn out to be a good resource; they should be, since nurses are their bread and butter.

In any case, wishing her and all of you the best of luck with this.

adnrnstudent, ASN, RN

Has 5 years experience.

I can't get past "An additional dose of calcium." How big was the dose? Sounds like this patient should avoid all dairy at all costs.

edmia, BSN, RN

Specializes in Emergency, ICU. Has 10 years experience.

I can't get past "An additional dose of calcium." How big was the dose? Sounds like this patient should avoid all dairy at all costs.

I agree! How could 1 dose of calcium throw this patient into an arrhythmia? Did she also administer it too fast? (Assuming this was an IV drug)

It also seems fishy that punitive action is taken instead of a root cause analysis. Tell her to hire a lawyer quick -- it'll be worth the money.

annie.rn

Has 21 years experience.

Wow! I can only hope that I make enough an impression on my co-workers that they would go to bat for me if I were in a similar situation. What a wonderful nurse she must be and what terrific co-workers she has. As others have mentioned, definitely write those letters and give copies to her. They will keep her spirits buoyed during this tough time and in the future...whatever it holds for her.

Don't lose track of her, don't let her isolate and get a falsely negative perspective.

I couldn't agree more with ^This^.

SeattleJess

Specializes in None yet..

Only by the Grace of God I go..... I'm praying for that nurse. So sad that the hospital is so quick to throw nurses under the bus.

Yes, indeed prnqday!

Sadly, it's cheaper and easier to scapegoat and employee than to change an understaffed system. (Also tempting to axe a more highly paid senior worker and get two new green ones to fill staffing time.)

Do I sound bitter and disillusioned? Yipes, I've been working in LTC for only two months...

SeattleJess

Specializes in None yet..

I take it you're not unionized, so there are no unsafe staffing report forms. No matter. You can use blank paper to protest your patient assignments. Every nurse should be doing this every time staffing is short. Make a copy for yourself, your manager, HR, BON, and whomever licenses or accredits your facility. Make sure everyone knows who else has a copy. If you and your coworkers start doing this now, it can go a long way toward protecting the nurse in question. She can use these documents along with the references you all give her.

She might want to contact the BON herself and give them a heads up. They may turn out to be a good resource; they should be, since nurses are their bread and butter.

In any case, wishing her and all of you the best of luck with this.

TriciaJ is a smart one. To make your own documentation is very, very smart. Brace yourself, though. Management will not like being held accountable.