7 Most Common Mistakes New Nurses Make
Crying nurse with her hands on her face

7 Most Common Mistakes New Nurses Make

Nurses may be considered as everyday superheroes, yet they are also humans who understandably make mistakes sometimes, especially when they are new to the job.

As a nurse, your job usually demands you to juggle multiple crucial tasks at a time. It’s challenging to maintain the delicate balance between speed and accuracy, especially when you are already exhausted from long hours of work.

That’s why it’s not surprising that nurses, whether newbies or seasoned veterans, occasionally make mistakes. However, being aware of the mistakes nurses commonly make may help you avoid making similar blunders during your shifts. This is essential because your performance as a nurse is relevant to the health and safety of your patients.

Read on to find out seven common nursing mistakes. Learn tips on how to steer clear of these errors for the sake of your patients’ well-being:

New Nurse Mistake #1: Medication Errors

Medication errors are a major problem among nurses, according to a study published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine. It’s a common occurrence for nurses and healthcare professionals to accidentally administer the wrong medication or an inaccurate dosage of medication to patients.

Medication errors may potentially cause serious harm to patients since their medicine intake directly affects their health. That’s why you should minimize the risk of this type of error.

Tip: Be focused.

The best way to avoid medication errors is to focus on each of your medication-related tasks. After all, distraction is a significant cause of medication errors, as explained in the digital book posted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information.

Paying attention to details can help you spot the difference between medications with similar packaging and to accurately decipher information in patients’ charts and doctors’ prescriptions.

New Nurse Mistake #2: Charting Errors

Charting and documentation errors are significant because they may possibly lead to other health care-related blunders. These could affect the work, not just of the nurses who made the mistake, but also by doctors and other medical professionals who need to refer to the information on the charts.

Documentation by nurses is important because it serves as a vital source of communication between physicians and patients, according to an academic paper by the Ramaiah University of Applied Sciences. That’s why you should diligently strive to be a source of error-free data.

Tip: Be thorough.

Do your best to be meticulous when recording patients’ medical information. The quality of your nursing records is a representation of the standard of healthcare you provide to your patients, advises a nursing records guide by the Community Eye Health Journal.

Make sure to use a standardized form, write legibly and concisely, and be factual as you record important details such as the patient’s personal data, vital signs, medication history, scheduled surgeries, etc.

New Nurse Mistake #3: Extreme Self-Reliance

Rookie nurses who are flexing their fresh nursing skills for the first time might be overeager to complete numerous assignments on their own. This tendency could possibly prevent them from asking for guidance from senior team members about situations they are not qualified to handle alone. It may also keep them from delegating certain tasks to nursing assistants and other team members.

However, this extreme level of self-reliance might not be sustainable in the long run. It could cause nurses to be overwhelmed with too many responsibilities and to be unable to properly fulfill each one. This could eventually lead to work stress and burnout, which nurses are prone to experience, according to Patient Safety and Quality: An Evidence-Based Handbook for Nurses.

Tip: Listen and delegate.

No nurse is an island. Feel free to consult with senior nurses and other health care professionals on your team about matters that are beyond your current knowledge or experience. Be willing to delegate some assignments to your teammates so that you’ll have time and energy to devote to critical tasks that require your attention.

New Nurse Mistake #4: Risk Management Issues

Another typical mistake that novices in the nursing world make is the failure to follow risk management procedures. A health care risk management system, which most hospitals and health care facilities have, is formed of procedures that can detect and prevent risky situations, as the NEJM Catalyst explains.

New nurses might be tempted to skip the learning process necessary for these procedures, especially if they are looking forward to jumping straight to their nursing duties.

Tip: Learn and memorize.

You need to put in extra time to familiarize yourself with the risk management procedures of your own workplace. However, it’s worth the effort so you can help reduce the risk of danger for your patients.

New Nurse Mistake #5: Infection Prevention Issues

It’s an ongoing challenge for nurses to lower the risk of infections in hospitals and other health care settings. Approximately one out of 31 patients acquire a health care-associated infection, according to the HAI Data of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

While not all risk factors are under the control of nurses, it’s possible for nurses to fail to protect patients from getting preventable infections. The neglect to observe core practices may potentially cause patients to unnecessarily acquire infections.

Tip: Follow infection prevention core practices.

In order to avoid preventable infections as you provide nursing care, you should comply with the Core Practices recommended by the CDC. Follow standard precautions such as the appropriate use of personal protective equipment (PPE), injection and medication safety, and hygiene procedures.

Observing hygiene techniques can minimize your patients’ exposure to pathogens which could lead to infectious diseases.

New Nurse Mistake #6: Falling Accidents

Nurses are usually responsible for multiple patients, which is why it’s challenging to keep track of each and every one of them all the time. Some patients attempt to stand up and walk on their own even when they are not yet physically prepared to do so. These unsupervised patient efforts could lead to falling accidents that could result in injuries.

Accidental falls are a common problem among patients in the US. Patient falls cause complications to approximately 2% of hospital stays, according to an HHS Public Access article.

Tip: Monitor and connect.

To be realistic, it’s not always possible to anticipate all patient falls. However, nurses can take proactive measures to prevent most of these accidents.

You should monitor your patients at regular intervals. Assure them that they are welcome to call you or other staff members to request help. Prepare the basic items that patients need near their beds to curb their impulse to walk around without your assistance.

New Nurse Mistake #7: Lack of Self-Care

Last but not least, new nurses can make the mistake of overlooking self-care in their zeal to provide health care to patients. They may tire themselves out by taking on too many responsibilities. Nurses might also unexpectedly injure themselves at work if they overexert themselves.

Perhaps it’s not surprising that an average of 17.5% of new nurses resigns from their first job in a short span of one year, according to a study by Policy, Politics & Nursing Practice. However, there are ways that you can avoid burnout which could help you maintain your nursing career.

Tip: Nurture your well-being.

Nourish your physical, emotional, and mental health by getting enough sleep, rest, nutritious food, exercise, meditation, and healthy socialization (with proper social distancing during this pandemic, of course). Self-care for health care professionals is of utmost importance. 

The only way you can sustain your mission to take care of others as an everyday superhero is to value yourself as a human being.

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