5 Mistakes nurses make and how to avoid them

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Every medical occupation requires perfection because medical professionals deal directly or indirectly with people’s lives. The nursing profession is the backbone of the health setup, but nurses are prone to make certain mistakes. When you are starting your career, you are fighting with speed and accuracy, time management, nervousness, and adjusting to a new environment. But during this phase, making correct decisions, recognizing mistakes, and having appropriate solutions is the key to success. Nurses sometimes make mistakes and can correct them with time through proper counseling. But these errors can have serious results and may lead to fatal incidents. According to a study, 42% of life-threatening events in healthcare and 28% of adverse effects caused by medications could be prevented by reducing errors. One of the major factors involved in mistakes in the healthcare system is extended shifts with too much workload. Allowing some time to breathe and relax can probably reduce medical errors to a great extent. This article will explain mistakes made by nurses and ways to avoid these.

Medication Errors: 

Medication errors not only delay the patient’s recovery but can also be fatal. Every day, one death is reported in the United States because of medication-related errors. These errors occur due to dispensing the wrong medication, administrating the wrong dosage form, or giving someone else’s prescription. In entry-level nurses, the cause of medication error is pressure, nervousness, and lack of presence of mind. 

Nurses should focus on their work during their duty hours, leaving their personal issues behind. Double-checking the prescription and actively engaging with pharmacy staff to learn about medicines that seem alike can reduce medication errors. Another way is to increase your overall knowledge by continuing your studies. Many platforms now offer online RN-BSN programs to help nurses get advanced knowledge about their field and minimize such errors.

Risk of Infections:

Transmission of infections from an affected person to a healthy person is a big issue in hospitals. Ongoing infections challenge nurses who need to lower their transmission risk in healthcare setups. In the United States, 99,000 deaths occur in hospital infections transmission. Nurses play a major role in inhibiting or transmitting these infections, especially during the days of Covid-19. Nurses should avoid unnecessary contact with patients and their attendees. Good hygiene techniques, like washing hands with sanitizer, can reduce the transmission of infections. Wearing gloves, following standard operating procedures (SOPs), aseptic techniques, disinfection, sterilizing medical equipment, and wearing masks can significantly reduce hospital-related infection transmission.  

Documentation Errors:

Mistakes related to documentation and charting are very common. Documenting patients’ information plays an important role in communication between patients and the healthcare team. Recording false and incorrect information about patients can prevent patients from getting appropriate medications, treatment, and care. Nurses should timely document all the information, events, and changes in patients. As a nurse, make yourself aware of common documentation errors to avoid these. Following are the tips that nurses can follow:

  • Record patient history, given medications, and discontinued medications
  • Any effect of a medication like an allergy and changes in a patient’s condition
  • Make sure that you are documenting the correct patient
  • Nursing actions and instructions given
  • Write legibly and in a standard format

Documenting incorrect information can sometimes have adverse effects because a patient’s treatment is based on the documentation that the entire staff receives, including surgeons and physicians. If nurses are not sure about something, they should ask someone with enough experience to guide them on the matter. For new nurses, it would be best to have a nurse mentor who can help them throughout their nursing journey until they are ready to do the job with perfection. 

Patient Falling Accidents:

Nurses usually have multiple patients at a time. This is why they cannot keep checking on a patient all the time. Patients can fall accidentally when they try to stand up on their own and move around after surgery or when they are physically weak or aged. Some patients feel uncomfortable asking for help from another person or nurse. Such patients with weak physical conditions can fall when they try to get out of bed to reach out for something which is away from their access or when they want to go to the bathroom. These falls can lead to serious injuries, fractures, and legal problems for nurses and hospitals. Nurses should take necessary measures to prevent patient falls. Keep necessary things close to patients where they have easy access. Always welcome patients so that they do not feel uncomfortable when they want to ask for help. Be aware of medicines that can cause dizziness and administer them after discussing them with the pharmacist or healthcare team.

Fatigue Related Errors:

Health is indeed wealth. If we are tired and not resting properly, we will end up with physical issues, especially fatigue. As mentioned earlier, nurses fight with time management and workload, and most of them do not care about proper rest. Fatigue can lead to injuries to patients and also to the nurses. Nurses work in an environment where various surgical instruments and hazardous chemicals are also present. If they work in such an environment without taking breaks, it can damage them and the patients. Wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to avoid any chemical spill damage. Getting proper rest, adequate nutrition, investing in yourself, managing stress, remaining positive, exercising, and counseling can help nurses avoid fatigue-related errors. 

Conclusion:

Everyone makes mistakes, but the mistakes made by nurses can have serious effects and can be fatal. Counseling plays an important role in preventing these types of errors. Creating a healthier environment for patients and healthcare workers, especially nurses, can help reduce hospital-related and nursing mistakes. The most common cause of mistakes is pressure and workload with extended shifts. Government and hospital management should take necessary measures to minimize working hours. There should be a helping environment in our healthcare setups where senior and experienced nurses support their juniors. Actions that are timely, efficient, and patient-centered can minimize many errors in healthcare setups.

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