Although this article makes light of the situations nurses sometimes find themselves in, Nursing Errors can cause an increase in morbidity and mortality; as well as give the profession a “bad name”. We can’t blame short staffing or long hours for errors. If we are unable to do our jobs effectively and safely where we are, we should look for alternative employment for the sake of our patients and ourselves.
Future nurses, here are what nursing programs should be teaching as the top faux pas of the profession:
Trying to be everything to everybody. This is a general faux pas where nurses tend to forget how to balance their work and life situations. You can’t balance your checkbook while working ICU. You can’t make it to your son’s baseball game if you pick up those extra hours after 3pm! Time management and priority setting will go a long way here.
Placing the wrong probe in the wrong opening. Oh, this is an oral thermometer? Enough said on that.
What was in that basin? Oh no! I just flushed Mrs. Barrett’s false teeth! Pay attention. That may be an emesis basis to you, but to Mrs. Barrett it is the perfect place for her false teeth!
Oh, didn’t I mention that side effect? You get a frantic call from a patient you discharged yesterday with a UTI. She was placed on oral rifampin. She is convinced she is dying because her urine is orange. Oops…I must have forgotten to mention that side effect.
Medication Errors. In nursing school you learn the right patient, right drug, right time, right dose, and right route. Don’t forget to use these patient medication rights EVERYTIME you administer a medication. Errors often occur when a nurse is busy and doesn’t take the proper time to assure everything is correct.
Wrong procedure. Was that Mr. Smith in 202 who needed the wound care or Mr. Jones in 203? When you bring your wound care supplies into room 203 and pull down Mr. Jones’ sheet is when you suddenly realize he was admitted with a cardiac issue. Mr. Smith needs the wound care. Near miss this time! Again, time management and attention to detail…You are never too busy to do the right task every time!
Forgotten patient. After apologizing for exposing Mr. Jones at 3pm by accident, he asked you for a glass of water. You told him you would be right back. On your way home at 7:30pm you remember the conversation and the fact that you never saw Mr. Jones again after 3pm. Oops. In health care, the squeaky patient gets the attention! Don’t forget your obligations to your entire patient load!
Eating our young. This is a huge professional faux pas, in my opinion. Why is it that we can’t mentor our young instead of seeing them as nurses who have no experience and are in our way? How are they going to gain experience and skill sets without proper guidance from the experienced group? When your time comes to be a mentor, don't use scare tactics. They are not positive education tools!
Being too afraid to question an order. If you are afraid of questioning an order, you are in the wrong profession. Remember, while performing our other duties, nurses have an obligation to protect the safety of his/her patients. If something appears incorrect, question it. What is the worst that can happen? You are wrong. What is the alternative? You are right and your patient doesn’t get a lethal dose of morphine.
Nurses, please leave a comment about your nursing programs or career below!
By:Sue Heacock, RN, MBA
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