Most Common Nursing Errors and How to Avoid Them

Nurses have one of the most grueling (and often thankless) jobs in America. They deal with cranky patients, field countless distractions, frequently work 12-hour shifts and often suffer from fatigue—which unfortunately also makes them susceptible to making mistakes. While most nurses have the best intentions toward their patients (even the cranky ones), the best among them sometimes fail to provide the best care—which is why patients and their families must be watchful and diligent. Let’s look at a few of the most common nursing errors to watch for.

Medication Errors

Administering medicine incorrectly is one of the most common nursing errors—and the one with potentially the most severe consequences for patients. Medication errors happen for all sorts of reasons, including:

  • Badly written instructions from the doctor that the nurse can’t read
  • Mis-reading dosages
  • Getting too busy and forgetting the next dosage time
  • Accidentally giving too much or too little medicine
  • Prescriptions failing to be documented on patient charts—meaning the medicine doesn’t get administered at all

Body Mechanic Errors/Patient Falls

Nurses often have to move patients in bed, help them in or out of bed or in the bathroom—often with patients who weigh more than they do. If a nurse underestimates the weight or body mechanics of a patient she’s working with, the patient may fall and get hurt, or either the nurse or patient may suffer from twists, strains or other injuries.

Documentation Errors

Since nurses must deal with ongoing care for multiple patients at a time, it’s easy to overlook documenting when a dose of medicine was administered, the last time vitals were taken or some other important bit of information. If the nurse fails to write something down, the next nurse of physician won’t be up to speed on patient care, resulting in possible errors or neglect of treatment.

Failure to Prioritize

Time management is a key element of the nursing profession, and unfortunately not all nurses are good at it. The problem can be especially worse at high-traffic times or at the end of a long shift. The nurse may get backlogged and fail to come around at the right time to see to a patient’s care.

Avoiding and Preventing Nursing Errors

With all of these potential errors, diligence is key to preventing them. Watch over your hospitalized loved one carefully; know which medicines he’s supposed to take and when; pay attention to care schedules and watch for signs of fatigue with the nurse. If you see anything out of order, don’t be afraid to bring it up and ask questions. Ask for a second nurse or a visit from a physician to double-check everything. Being proactive is the best way to sidestep potential nursing errors so your loved one receives the best possible care.

If your loved one has suffered due to nursing errors, our Washington D.C. medical malpractice attorneys can help. Give us a call to find out more.