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Soooo discouraged:( First Med Error


I'm soooo discouraged. I came from homecare working as a lpn to a nursing home. I'm working as a floor RN & had my first medication error already. Wrong patient:down: Same first name wrong last name. Idk what I was thinking.. :banghead: Replaying it back in my mind. I checked the id band. Thank gosh the med wasn't harmful. I feel incompetent now & not sure if I should stay in this profession

Rose_Queen, BSN, MSN, RN

Specializes in OR, education. Has 15 years experience.

Everyone makes med errors at some point in their career. Those who say they haven't are either lying, never realized it, or are too new to have passed many meds. What's important is that the patient wasn't harmed and that you will carry this memory with you to make you more cognizant of medication safety.

I made one on my last day of orientation :( wasn't life threatening but if it were a different med it could've been! Hang in there...we are all human

Do not be so hard on yourself. Everyone makes medical errors at some point in their career. What most people don't realize is that although the individual does play a role in it, there is a system flaw or breakdown that has failed you, the nurse. Mistakes happen, we are only human. It is a great thing that no harm was done. The important part is that you learned from the mistake. I'm sure you have a lot of guilt and anxiety and that is all normal. Don't let this effect how you deliver optimal patient care in the future. Press on and learn from it! It will be okay, promise!

CT Pixie, BSN, RN

Has 10 years experience.

It happens. We are human, we make mistakes.

My first med error happened much like yours. Same first name..same room..I had the right patient, and all the other 'rights' checked. Just as I was about to give patient A her correct med..patient B was a tough one and had been very difficult to handle that night, screaming, very combative, and then she began to climb over the bed rail (she was a tough one normlly but she was just out of control that night..just uncontrolable, she was very anxious that night)..I hightailed it over to her bed, got her settled and stupidly gave her the med that was in the med cup I had in my hand. oops!

Did all the paper work entailed with an 'incident', called all the needed people and then called the doctor. He was the doctor for both patients. I was apologizing over and over, very near tears. The doc laughed and said "Pixie..the med you gave Patient B was Ativan..correct?" I answered yes. He said, 'sounds like Patient B needed it anyway'. That made me sort of laugh. Both patients were fine. And patient B slept well through the shift.

Don't beat yourself up. If every nurse who ever made a med error quit because they felt incompetent and not cut out to be a nurse..we'd have NO nurses. We ALL make med errors..there are those of us who know we did and the ones who say they never have..like the other poster said..are lying or don't realize the error they made.

Chin up.


Specializes in Geriatric. Has 7 years experience.

Oh my, it is okay. People are not perfect, we are human and we make errors. I don't care if it is your first week, or your 20th year. You will make a mistake. Make sure you learn from it, and make sure you own it. Then, move on. Don't be discouraged. It doesn't matter what setting you are in, you will make a med error. Everyone does. Keep your head up.

No Stars In My Eyes

Specializes in Med nurse in med-surg., float, HH, and PDN. Has 43 years experience.

I had the right patient, the right med,but the wrong dose. My only excuse was there were three other nurses in the med room with me, hoo-hah-ing, carrying on humorously,and jabbering; must've done my math wrong and got the decimal in the wrong place, giving the resp. pt a higher dose.

She developed a very high heart rate and it scared me to death. I found the Dr's PA and told her, heart in my throat. The doc came up on the floor and checked the patient, gave her something to bring the galloping rate down to a more reasonable level.

He was very comforting, though I felt like a complete idiot. He told me the good thing was that she was a resp.pt. and not a heart pt. and no harm was done except to my ego.

Gosh, even the patient was good-humored about it! Hard to believe, but true!

There was a new rule after that, no more than two nurses in the med room at the same time, and nothing discussed not having to do with meds.

The doc was very solicitous of me after that, always asking how I was doing, not wanting me to feel as humiliated as I felt. He earned my undying loyalty by talking w/ me about his patients when I was assigned to them, and always asked me for my observations and opinions. He never spoke about it again, showed me he had confidence in me.

Were it just "not done" I could've hugged him and and given him a smooch on the cheek, I felt so thankful he never held it over my head.

Boy did I ever take that to heart, learned to have another nurse double-check my math, after I always checked it twice myself!


Specializes in Family practice, emergency. Has 10 years experience.

I made one by asking a pt "Mrs. So and so?" instead of having her state her name... I was doing a favor for another nurse. It was not a critical med, but I owned up to it right away and cried for about two hours in the manager's office, and then all night long. The way we are understaffed everywhere it is a miracle I haven't made more in my career. Let the error make you a better nurse, it is not a reason to leave.

I think that employers can help here, also. One of my unit leaders went to bat for me and fought a write-up, as I had come forward on my own. Hopefully you work in a supportive place :)


Specializes in Mental Health. Has 4 years experience.

Let the error make you a better nurse, it is not a reason to leave.

This - now what can you do to prevent it from happening again? Don't bet yourself up, you are human.

Well I got fired because I was 'too slow' & I'm pretty sure the med error helped..😔 it's hard enough finding a job but I guess I have to brush myself off & try again..maybe

Oh I'm so sorry to hear that. Please try to pick yourself up and think positively. Your remorse shows that you care about your patients and your work. Being slow is not necessarily a terrible thing. If you are not familiar with the patients, being slow and Careful is good. Sometimes ( most of the time) patient workload assignments are ridiculously unrealistic.


Specializes in Long term care; med-surg; critical care. Has 6 years experience.

I'm so sorry to hear you lost your job! And to lose your job for being too slow sounds ridiculous to me. I am the slowest around on a med pass- but I don't do them all that often now so that adds to my lack of speed.

As for your original med error post- just another chime in here to say "been there, done that". I've made three med errors in my two + years of nursing. Accidentally left meds on a bedside table when another resident fell and I got sidetracked. Missed administration of a scheduled narc one shift and didn't remember to document the resident refusal, and recently gave the ER version when a resident had both ER and IR strength meds, at the time the IR was ordered. Oops.

Narrowly missed another one when I was subbing on the dementia unit. The residents down there are rarely wearing their ID bracelets- will often take them off or put on someone else's. They don't all respond meaningfully when asked their name, so it's usually just asking another nurse or aide to identify the resident. I got to one room, saw the resident under the covers in bed, got the meds ready and headed over. As I got to the bed, the aide walked in and said "R___, what are you doing in A___'s bed?" Scared the crap out of me that I almost gave the meds. Since then I make sure another staff member absolutely identifies every resident on that floor if I have to give a med!

We all do our best. We're human. Good luck to you with your future plans.

The important thing is that you recognized it. Everyone does it as we are all human. And for the ones who say they have not they either are not admitting to it or don't know they did. Just learn from the experience.

Ugh! I feel your pain! Med errors are stressful, you worry about the patient and your job. You feel like nursing isn't for you, but when I was stressed about mine I was flooded with stories of med errors. Before I made mine I had a gut feeling something wasn't right, but I was bisy, tired, and a little embarrassed to ask. Learn from your mistakes. I learned if I ever get that feeling to take 3 deep breaths, really read everything and get out the drug book. I'm also less afraid to ask because you can know things but forget when you have a million other things on your mind. Relax, slow down, and remember that you are human and will make mistakes.

Biggest pet peeve... interrupts when I'm pulling meds. It's bad enough in the med room but I've also dealt with those dreaded med carts. Being out in the hallway with patients coming up demanding you drop what you're doing to demand a PRN they can't have for another 2 hours then hear them ***** about how they will get you fired for "withholding" pain medication. Sigh... I'm not withholding when it's not even close to the next available dose time.