No one likes to make mistakes, but in most professions, mistakes are merely opportunities for workers to learn and improve. In the healthcare field, however, mistakes can be incredibly dangerous, putting not only a provider’s career at risk but threatening the health and safety of patients, too. In fact, there are more than a few mistakes that will immediately end a nurse’s career and perhaps subject that nurse to criminal charges.
Whether you are already a nurse or you are interested in pursuing a BSN degree to enter the nursing field, here are some mistakes that will have serious repercussions:
In healthcare, negligence is a legal term that refers to a failure of healthcare providers to fulfil their professional obligations and provide due care. Typically, nurses will suffer negligence charges when a patient suffers harm due to a mistake or omission in care. For example, if a nurse does not take the time to assess and respond to patient needs and a patient’s medical condition worsens, that nurse may be subject to a negligence claim. It is essential that nurses are exceedingly attentive to patient care, document all of their activities and slow down to process information and administer treatment properly.
Nursing is a broad field; it is possible to obtain low-level nursing jobs with just 12 months of training, but more advantageous nursing positions (and pay) require more advanced degrees of education. Unfortunately, some nurses lie about their credentials in attempts to secure better nursing jobs — and this act of fraud puts their license at risk. In fact, any type of lie or intentional misinformation by nurses can be considered fraud, so nurses need to avoid temptation to supply any kind of false statements in their course of work.
Nurses wield a surprising amount of power over their patients, who lack information about their health and healthcare system and who are likely suffering from a disease that makes them particularly dependent on caregivers. Sadly, some nurses take advantage of patients who are in such compromised states, making various types of threats or perpetrating harassment. In some cases, nursing abuse involves violence, but taking money or engaging in sexual acts with patients is also considered abuse. It should go without saying, but nurses should never make threats or take actions to harm their patients in any way.
A particularly common form of nursing negligence is a medication error, which involves supplying the wrong type or dosage of medication to a patient. These errors become problematic when the medication causes the patient harm, either by failing to address the patient’s health condition or by resulting in dangerous side effects or poison. Because the distribution of medications is such a common responsibility of nursing staff, nurses need to check and double-check the medications they supply to patients to ensure safety and accuracy.
Reporting is essential in healthcare, as it ensures that all healthcare providers involved in a patient’s care are well-informed about their patient’s status. Because nurses tend to spend the most time with patients, their input on reports can be absolutely vital — which is why the filing of inaccurate reports is not permitted in nursing. Nurses who make a habit out of filing reports riddled with errors put patients at risk of improper treatment, and they are likely to be terminated and have their licenses revoked. The greater care a nurse can employ when completing reports, the better.
Many nurses work in facilities that maintain controlled substances as essential treatments for patients. Of course, substances tend to be tightly controlled for a reason: irresponsible use can result in reckless behavior, dependence and perhaps death. Still, some nurses illicitly take certain substances for personal use, putting their patients and themselves at risk. Often, nurses found pilfering controlled substances will have their employment and licenses terminated on the spot, so it is imperative that nurses recognize the extreme risk they take in interacting with controlled substances and take care to avoid compromising their integrity with substance use and abuse.
A mistake in nursing could be a matter of life and death. From the very start of your nursing career to its height, you need to understand which types of mistakes you must always avoid to keep your career — and your patients — safe.
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