4 Mistakes New Nurses Make

Nurses make mistakes. Lots of them. Most of the time we catch them before they become a big deal. Maybe you’ve pulled a medicine at the wrong time or called a patient by the wrong name, or done something that won’t necessarily cause harm, but will cause embarrassment.

Nonetheless, nurses no matter how logical they might think or act, are simply human beings who are capable of committing certain errors every once in a while. In the local scene, our nurses seem to be more exposed than ever to certain mistakes due to extended hours of shift, heavier workloads, and replacement of experienced nurses by newly-trained and inexperienced young ones.

Nurses make the same mistakes as other nurses, which can be both a comfort and a source of fear. Below are 4 mistakes you’re gonna make sometime, and how you can learn from them and recover from them.

Making a Medication Error

Dispensing wrong medication, dispensing wrong dose of medication, giving a medication to the wrong patient, and failing to monitor patient’s condition are some of the errors under this category that are potentially life threatening to patients. No one is excused to this kind of pitfall; you can either be a new nurse or a staff nurse with years of experience and still commit this awful mistake. Every nurse now in practice has made at least one, usually without knowing it.

Omitting Some sort of Treatment or Doing it to the Wrong part of Body

There is no worse order than “apply to affected area TID.” If you’re not aware of what the affected area is, you’ll be left staring at the patient’s apparently intact skin, wondering what to do with that little tube of ointment. Preventing an error requires research into the chart and maybe asking the doc what the heck is going on.

Calling a Patient by the Wrong Name

To us, it’s nothing more than an embarrassing slip. To the patient, it’s a huge deal: What else has this nurse confused on me? The only thing to do is apologize- profusely– and continue on with such attention to detail that the patient is reassured.

Calling a Doc without all the Necessary Information on Hand

This is something you learn early on, especially if you start on the night shift. Never call a physician without the chart in front of you and every single pertinent piece of information about your patient on the tip of your tongue. Especially don’t call the doc at 3 a.m. if you’re not already primed with information and suggestions. Believe me when I tell you that it took me several times, not just once, to learn this.

Celeste Botonakis

On the Nursing Assistant Guides blog, certified medical assistant Celeste Botonakis explores the daily life of a CMA. She'll keep you up-to-date with the latest on what’s happening in the field, and provides tips for those who are interested in becoming a medical or nursing assistant. Celeste has served in the medical field for over six years, and is passionate about helping people. She currently works at CSR Primary Care in Skokie, Illinois. Click here to learn more about Celeste Botonakis and NursingAssistantGuides.com.