It’s not an exaggeration to say that one of the things every nurse fears the most is making a fatal error in judgement. The huge responsibility lying on our shoulders makes it especially hard for any nurse to acknowledge that, sometimes, mistakes might happen. Fearing fatal errors is the number one cause of the increase in burnout, distress, shame, guilt and even depression among nurses.
Wrapping your mind around the impact that such an error might have on you is not easy. However, there are two main factors that you have to understand. The first one is the patient outcome and the effects on its health. The second factor is the degree of the personal responsibility felt by you. The higher both are, the stronger the distress you feel after the error.
Prevention is a great strategy, and other nurses’ mistakes can be a lesson for many – like in this article. Although trying to prevent error in judgement is always a good idea, sometimes prevention techniques simply do not work. And that is because the error is already made – so how do you recover from such a stressful moment when there is no way to turn it around?
- Stay Calm
To tackle such stressful moments as best as possible, you have to try to keep your calm and simply accept the situation. The error has been made and the only thing that matters now is to make sure you handle it right. Allowing yourself to fall prey to counterproductive reactions – that are, otherwise, a natural defensive response – will only make the matter worse. Be it emotional repression, anger, defensive medical practices or patient avoidance, you have got to make sure you stay away from them.
- Take Accountability
Now that you have accepted that you’ve made an error, the best thing you can do is to take responsibility for it. You can release a lot of distress by simply discussing it with your colleagues and friends. As much as the thought of them thinking less about you might frighten you, you are always way harder on yourself than everybody else. Plus, someone with a more objective perspective is much more likely to have good ideas than someone overwhelmed with emotions. Sharing what happened with your coworkers will not only ease the situation but bring you all closer and make you work as a whole. Do not hesitate to share how affected you are by what happened.
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