3 Common Nursing Errors that Harm Patients

Nurses are hospital staff members most likely to spend an extended amount of time with patients. Unfortunately, nurses are notoriously overworked, often caring for multiple patients at once. There is only so much a person can do, so nursing errors are bound to happen. Sometimes these mistakes can have deadly consequences for patients.

Medication Errors: There are several different ways medication errors can happen. A nurse might give a patient the wrong dosage of medication, or the wrong medicine altogether. In other cases, a nurse might miss important information on a patient’s medical history and provide a medication that causes an allergic reaction. Some medications look similar and can be confusing for new nurses. However, administrative mistakes are among the most common reasons for medication errors. The Institute of Medicine suggests 26 percent to 32 percent of medication errors happen due to administrative mistakes, such as misreading a doctor’s handwriting.

Not Recording Information: Remember how we said nurses are busy and care for multiple patients at a time? Being overworked or distracted can lead to nurses forgetting to write down important information. For example, a nurse notices something wrong with a patient, such as discoloration, and fails to make note of it. These types of mistakes are sometimes referred to as “charting errors”.

Labeling Errors: Labeling errors are common reasons for medical mistakes, but can also lead to other adverse events for patients. For example, a Seattle nurse accidently mislabeled a medication, which led to a patient being injected with a cleaning solution. Tubing used in catheters and other medical devices can also be mislabeled. Medical devices that look similar can be mislabeled. As a nurse, it is always important to double check medications, medical devices and other equipment.

Dangerous Hospital Policies Cause Medical Wrongdoing

Nursing errors are often a symptom of greater institutional problems, such as poor hospital policies. Hospitals may overwork nurses or understaff emergency departments. Unfortunately, patients are the people who pay the ultimate price for these dangerous hospital policies.