Today in the chart

5 Most Common Mistakes Made by New Nurses

It’s impossible to prevent every mistake, but when you’re learning a new floor or working with new nurses, being aware of these common mistakes can help you catch them before they happen.

Nurses put constant pressure on themselves never to make a mistake, but the fact is that nurses are human. 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, knowing these common errors from might help you catch them.

1. Medication errors

Even experienced nurses aren’t immune to giving the wrong dose, an incorrect medication with a similar name, or even mixing up patients. Medication errors injure 1.5 million Americans annually, 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 the right person
  • Ask the patient about any reactions or allergies before giving the medication
  • Highlight any conditions or critical diagnoses before administering medication
  • Make sure the patient’s list of drugs is consistently updated
  • Make sure the patient’s weight and height measurements are accurate

2. Infections 

Infections account for roughly 99,000 deaths in hospitals annually, so the best way to prevent these is to understand the importance of good hygiene. In addition to following standard precautions, you should also master aseptic techniques, cleaning, and disinfection, as well as strategies for preventing infection.

3. Charting and documentation errors 

Anyone who’s worked in a healthcare setting knows charting, for better or worse, is a massive part of the job. With more time spent documenting, there are increased opportunities to make a mistake that may harm a patient and 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 auto-fills
  • 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. So, beforehand, think 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. Unfortunately, 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.

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