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Avoiding Nursing Mistakes

top-nursing-mistakes-new-nurseEveryone makes them from time to time. But if you make a mistake as a nurse, it can have serious consequences. Depending on the severity of a mistake, it can land you a warning, a formal write-up, or even cost you your job. Although it is impossible to do everything perfectly all the time, there are several things you can do in order to reduce the chances of making a nursing mistake.

  1. Double Check Medication Dosages: Medication errors are one of the most common mistake nurses make. Medication errors may be minor and harmless or can be serious enough they can be life-threatening for the patient. Always follow hospital policy when it comes to administering medications. Double check your dosage just to be safe.
  1. Practice Closed Loop Communication: When you are taking an order, it is best to use closed loop communication. This involves repeating the order back to the physician. For example, if a doctor gives you a phone order, you should read the order back to the doctor to confirm. Closed loop communication can decrease mistakes due to poor communication between healthcare providers.
  1. Limit Working Overtime: Mistakes may occur more easily if you are overly tired. If you routinely work overtime, make sure you are getting enough rest. Keep in mind that working extra shifts can also lead to fatigue. You need downtime to recharge and rest.
  1. Ask for Help: If you are overwhelmed with your patient workload, mistakes are more likely to occur. Large patient workloads can occur due to staffing problems, such as sick calls, or a sudden increase in patients being admitted into the hospital. Whatever the reason is if you feel your workload is unsafe for the patients, it is time to call in backup. Ask a coworker to lend a hand. If all else fails, call the nursing supervisor and explain the situation. He or she may be able to call in staff from home.
  1. Manage Your Time Well: Time management is a skill all nurses need to develop. As a nurse, you will be providing patient care, doing paperwork, answering calls, taking orders and talking with other hospital staff. It is a lot to juggle. Managing your time well can prevent you from feeling rushed and under stress. When you are hurried, you may be more likely to cut corners, forget something or miscommunicate. Learning to juggle your responsibilities can take a little time, but it is an essential part of the job.

If you do make a mistake, it is always best to admit it. You don’t have to shout it from the rooftop, but don’t try to cover it up, which always make things worse. Not only is hiding a mistake potentially harmful to your patient, you can make the situation worse for yourself.

Keep in mind, everyone occasionally makes a mistake. You are human, and all you can do is your best. If you do make a mistake, don’t beat yourself up. Try to figure out why it happened and learn from it.

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