Nurses put endless pressure on themselves never to make a mistake — but the fact of the matter is nurses are human. And of course, dangerous staffing ratios, a lack of breaks and extended shift lengths increase the likelihood of errors, especially for someone new to the job.
It’s impossible to prevent every single mistake, but when you’re learning a new floor or working with novice nurses, being aware of these common errors, per NurseJournal.org, might help you catch them before they happen.
1. Medication errors
Even experienced nurses aren’t immune to giving the wrong dose or an incorrect medication with a similar name, or even mixing up patients. Medication errors injure 1.5 million Americans every year, and an estimated 30 percent of these incidents are related to medication administration, most of which is done by nurses.
To avoid these potentially deadly errors, remember to:
- Double-check the patient receiving the medication is right person
- Ask the patient about any reactions or allergies before giving the medication
- Highlight any conditions or critical diagnosis before administering medication
- Make sure the patient’s list of medications is consistently updated
- Make sure the patient’s weight and height measurements are accurate
Infections account for roughly 99,000 deaths in hospitals every year, so the best way to prevent these is to understand the importance of — and always practice — good hygiene. In addition to following standard precautions, you should also master aseptic techniques, cleaning and disinfection, as well as strategies for preventing infection.
Anyone who’s worked in a healthcare setting knows charting, for better or worse, is a huge part of the job. And the more time spent documenting, the more opportunity there is to make a mistake that may not only harm a patient but also open you up to a lawsuit. These simple tips can help:
- Record health and drug information
- Record medications that have been given
- Record any discontinued medications
- Record nursing actions
- Record changes in the patient’s condition
- Record any orders given regarding the patient’s care
- Double-check any info that the EHR program autofills
- Any questions? Ask someone more experienced than you
4. Calling for help without preparing the necessary information
New nurses often call for help from a physician without being ready to present all the basics of their patient’s case. Beforehand, think hard about what you want to discuss with the physician and what you hope to gain from the conversation. Then, have at your disposal: the patient’s diagnosis, allergies, what medications they’re taking, and the latest labs and vitals.
5. Falling accidents
New nurses often don’t anticipate how serious the consequences of a weak or post-op patient falling can be. These incidents are much more likely to occur when help isn’t immediately available. Remember to check up on your patients, especially those at high-risk for falling, as much as possible, and do your best to place everything a patient needs within arm’s reach, even at night. It’s also beneficial to remind patients you’re available to help them use the bathroom, shower or complete other private tasks so they know they don’t need to do it alone.
Whether you’re a new nurse or working with new nurses, these tips can help keep your patients safe and your workplace and nursing team avoid legal troubles.