The nursing community has been in the media lately. One story that I have been following is about the ex-Vanderbilt nurse. The story is: a nurse gave a patient a deadly dose of a paralytic, vecuronium, instead of giving versed. If you don't know about vecuronium, it is a medication that keeps patients still while in surgery. In other cases, it is also used as a cocktail to execute death row convicts. Too much of this medication could cause one's body to shut down.
As a nurse, novice or seasoned, it is important to not be comfortable with shortcuts. If you do not know what shortcuts are, nursing shortcuts are acts that nurses do to skip over or not do a task to push time forward. For instance, in giving insulin, a nurse may administer the insulin before having another nurse sign off on it. In this case, the shortcut is the nursing giving the medication so that he or she is able to complete another task quickly.
Patient safety is at risk when shortcuts exist. In the Vanderbilt situation, a nurse administered medication that has a similar name to a medication that was to be given. In nursing school, we were all taught in pharmacology that there are sound alike look alike medications. Med errors will happen. My thought here is did the nurse override the medication in the Pyxis machine? Did she perform the 5 rights of medication? Was the medication scanned in the MAR and was there an alert to warn the nurse?
Things happen in nursing. Nurses are tired and may not be 100% themselves at times. No one is to be blamed, but when a patient dies from a preventative error, the nurse is always to be blamed. This is simply because he or she is the one that administered the medication to the patient causing harm.
As scary as might seem, patient cases are taken into court all of the time. You could have been a nurse just coming into your shift when an event happens to a patient. Or you could be a nurse that was assisting another nurse with a patient when an event happened. Either way, if your name is included in the incident report, you may be taken into court to testify your case. Talking about Law and Order! OMG!!
Hospitals, doctors, and nurses are sued all of the time, especially in death cases.
It could be months or even years before you are taken into court. The best way to cover yourself is to DOCUMENT. Let me say that again! DOCUMENT AND DOCUMENT SOME MORE!!! Report each and every event that includes your patients because a patient may be asymptomatic after the event and suddenly show changes days later. Your documentation will always cover yourself and your license, especially if you wrote what happened and what was done after the event.
`XOXO Nurse Bria