Termination for a Medication Error


I would like to know what you think of my situation:

I am a newly employed LPN for a residential facility and I made a medication error on my second day. During my orientation, it was for three days, I was merely shadowing another LPN so I can see how each and every medication should be given and basically know each and every client.

On my first official day, the administrator told me that I can start dispensing medications by myself but a fellow co-worker will still have to shadow me in case I have questions. Everything went well and I didn't miss anything. However, on my second official day, I made a mistake of giving a client a medication that is meant to be for another client.

The situation is this: there are two male clients who are going to receive medications at the same time. I was preparing for Client A's anti-depressant medication when suddenly Client B started acting out and began hitting himself. My co-LPN and I have managed to calm Client B down, so I decided to go back to the med room to dispense the medication. My co-LPN verified that it's the correct medication and we also went over the 5 (or 7) Rights. Client B started to act out again and began to hit himself, it was just my co-LPN and I who were trying to calm Client B down. So long story short, my focus now had been directed to Client B and decided to give the medication to him PO. I went back to the medication room and realized my mistake -the medication was for Client A.

I immediately told my co-LPN and immediately called my nursing administrator about the situation. At first she couldn't believe it and asked me if I was just joking. My co-LPN and I followed her instructions: contacted Client B's doctor, called the pharmacy for any drug interactions, supervised Client B for any side effects, etc. My nursing administrator told me to clock-out quickly and told me what are possible results -that there will be a lawsuit for the medication error, etc. My administrator told me that I will be updated or called for anything that might happen.

Now I feel scared because I might get terminated for making a medication error. I didn't hesitate on reporting it right away and admitting my mistake but I don't know if it will backfire to me. I am stressed because I don't know how it will affect my job and/or my future opportunities in case I get terminated. Can you please tell me what you guys think? My co-LPN told me that I shouldn't stress about it too much because medication error happens and we all make mistakes. But I can't stop thinking about it that I had a hard time sleeping.


553 Posts

Has 5 years experience.

I really doubt there will be a lawsuit, administrators are trained to speak like that. You weren't familiar with the patients yet. Next time, just let the nurse give the meds, or triple check next time or even ask the nurse if that is the right patient.


137 Posts

Has 13 years experience.

I have made an error in the exact same scenario. You reported it right away, followed up with the MD, followed correct procedures. If you get terminated for that error under those circumstances (especially when you had a coworker precepting or shadowing you), I wouldn't want to work for that place. I could absolutely understand them giving you some further education, a corrective plan maybe, but that's it. You sound very conscientious, and I seriously doubt you'll be making that error again. Best of luck to you

Sour Lemon

5,016 Posts

Has 13 years experience.

That's the real world verses school. In the real world, it's easy to get distracted and flustered ...especially when you're new.

I've made a mistake while rushing and learned from it. Now I slow down and take a few minutes to organize myself and my thoughts, even when I don't have time to.

I hope you're not treated too harshly. In the grand scheme of things, your mistake was not a super-huge one.

ComeTogether, LPN

1 Article; 2,167 Posts

Specializes in Keeping my head above water. Has 8 years experience.

This happened to me as well except I was lucky enough to have given nothing but vitamins. You'll never make this mistake again, ever. Next time you will put the meds back until you can safely identify the patient and safely give the meds.

To be honest, one of the hardest parts of SNF nursing is learning the patients. Soon you will know their faces and names inside and out, which makes it much easier. The 7 rights are not as fool proof as some people think in this line of work. Between patients who don't know their names, photos that look nothing like patients and patients who wander from room to room its challenging. Just learn from this and move on.

Aunt Slappy

271 Posts

Specializes in hospice, LTC, public health, occupational health. Has 2 years experience.

Amen on the photos. Most of them look like they were taken 20 years ago through a blurry lens.


39 Posts

lawsuit?? haha if there was a lawsuit for every medication error, none of us would have a job. Just breathe it happens.


3 Posts

I'd say a lawsuit is unlikely. Med errors happen more often than people think, and while we never want to make errors, we can always learn from them! It's unfortunate that they sent you home early, I can see how that would make you question yourself. You shouldn't though, because it sounds like you did everything you were supposed to do once you realized you made a mistake. A good facility will appreciate your honesty in this situation.