10 biggest nurse mistakes

We all make mistakes; it’s just part of being human. But in nursing, these mistakes can have life-or-death consequences. Here are 10 shocking and tragic mistakes that real nurses have made—and advice on how you can avoid the same errors.

Second Glance: A nurse grabbed what he thought was a package of antacids off the supply shelf. In reality, the drug was pancuronium, a powerful paralytic. What started out as an upset stomach turned into complete respiratory failure. The unlucky patient died the next day. The nurse’s excuse for the fatal error? The packaging looked the same for both medications.

Tip: Always double check the product label. It only takes a few seconds to avoid this kind of mistake.

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7 Responses to 10 biggest nurse mistakes

  1. Pingback: 10 Biggest Nurse Mistakes | Nurs(e)vreM

  2. kathyb714

    I was a charge nurse in the ER working 7p-7a…and i can honestly say of have seen a few of these Mistakes….the one i could really relate to was falling asleep while driving home.One day i was so tired i kept dozing off and this man driving a tractor trailer {18wheeler}stayed right by my side and would beep if i started to doze…and he waved when i reached my exit..it was a very scary ride home,i ended up moving to a day shift.

  3. amber0869

    I have seen so many terminations throughout my career for some of these exact things! I tell all new grads coming in…when in doubt, talk it out…meaning find someone if you’re unsure. It’s just not worth the patients life.

  4. kristiemiller1969

    There was a HUGE medication error at our local hospital concerning diabetic pens. For the last SIX years the pens were being used on multiple patients instead of the patient it was prescribed to. Now insulin dependent diabetic patients who are still alive have to undergo testing to make sure they haven’t contracted HIV, Hep B or Hep C. Whatever happened to the “Five Rights, Three Checks” system?? No nurse should be that hurried or that lazy!!

  5. suzdown

    As a seasoned nurse, almost everyone has done this mistake… hanging an IVPB that is piggybacked onto primary IV fluids via a pump but forgot to UNCLAMP the rolling clamp on the tubing. I’ve been written up on this a few years back when I was new but now make a point to always look at the drip chamber to make sure its infusing.

  6. suzdown

    NEVER leave medication such as pills at the patient’s bedside… when another nurse finds this unattended medication, it’s written up. Patients are suppose to “take” the medication when you, the nurse, are there and it is considered “administered.”

  7. Camoflahj

    My biggest mistake was not followimg the 5 R’s and giving a pt. 3x the amt oforphine prescribed. Pharmacy changed the bottle in-between my shifts and, stupid me, I assumed it was the same bottle. So instesd of her udual 30mg she got 90. Thank god she was a long-term user and a big lady. The doc was nice, told me not to worry that she would probably thank me. She did. But can you imagine if it had been some tiny 90 y.o.? I don’t think I everforgot the R’s again!