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How to Handle a Medication Error as a Travel Nurse

How to Handle a Medication Error as a Travel Nurse

A medication error can be a nightmare for a nurse. Even though statistically 65% of nurses have made a medication error in their career (American Journal of Nursing, 2017), there is still a paralyzing fear that comes with reporting a medication error and even worse, fearing a patient fatality because of it.

So, what do you do if you are a travel nurse? Not only is the medical equipment new to you, but you probably have not oriented longer than three days and may not know your supervisors that well. Do not fear, Wanderly has a few tips for you if you make a medication error. Remember, travel nurses are hired as the best of the best—competent nurses that are ready to take on the challenges that new hospitals bring. Start by remembering your strengths in nursing before you even step foot on assignment. You were chosen for a reason, and your experience has a lot to say for you.

Now, these are tips for you if you have already made a medication error. The best way to operate in nursing is to triple check everything you are doing and not make one in the first place, obviously. But, it happens. So here you go:

1.       Ensure Patient Safety

Before you do anything else, make sure the patient is okay and if they are not okay fix the problem. Ask for help immediately, even if you think you have it covered. Have another nurse or supervisor check your solution to ensure it is adequate.

2.       Notify Your Supervisor

I know this scares you. You may not even know you supervisors last name at this point in the assignment, but you need to notify them. It is important to follow procedure and policies surrounding medication errors to protect you legally. Here is the good news: supervisors want more nurses to report their medication errors, and many have shifted to rewarding honesty rather than harsh punishment.

3.       Document Everything from the Situation

Everything. Write down everything you can remember including: what happened, what the mistake was, how much medication, the type of medication, the reason for the error, patient response, etc.

4.       Apologize

If possible, apologize to the patient. Be accountable for your mistake, explain the circumstances, and apologize. It is tough to rebuild trust with someone who does not admit fault.

5.       What if you get Terminated

This is a possibility. Depending on how severe the mistake, you may be terminated. If this happens, try not to panic. Call your travel nursing agency and figure out a plan with your recruiter. There are always more travel nursing jobs, and hopefully, you have references from positive nursing experiences.

Overarching theme: honesty really is the best policy. You will feel better about it, and people will respect your honesty and willingness to grow.

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