A misplaced decimal point made Stephen Herman, MD, a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City, realize why good nurses are invaluable members of healthcare teams. He recalls the incident clearly; it was his first year out of medical school and he was doing a pediatrics internship.
“I had been up all night, on call, and the next morning I was making rounds, visiting some very sick infants,” he explains. “I wrote an order on a chart for an antibiotic, but I didn’t put the decimal in the right place, and had the nursing staff given what I ordered, we probably would have lost the baby if not caused severe damage to the kidneys or other organs.”
A nurse on the floor picked up on the mistake and approached Herman about it, and he corrected the order. “She saved my behind,” he says with relief and a great deal of gratitude. He adds that this was so long ago that he doesn’t remember the nurse’s name, but acknowledges that situations like this likely are still common today, and that the knowledge and experience of nurses can save the day.
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