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  • Writer's pictureNurseKayKnows

Making Clinical Mistakes

Clinical Mistakes

We all make them...some worse than others. If you haven’t, well, either you’re lying or just wait...

Mistakes in the clinical field as a student, new grad nurse, or transitioning can lead to feelings of self doubt and insecurity. It leaves us questioning whether this was the right choice or beating ourselves up constantly.

I’m a perfectionist at heart so I dwell on my errors constantly, even years later. And trust me, I’ve made plenty. I remember when I made a mistake as an RN student by letting a whole bag of IV ABT medications spill onto the floor. My face turned so red and I just wanted to disappear and cry especially since it happened in front of the whole group. But my clinical instructor just laughed and said “I expected one of you would do that. It always happens.” Or as a new nurse, when I forgot to set the bed alarm on my patient and she fell. I felt like such an idiot and that I intentionally hurt my patient. But my colleagues made me feel calm.

Our mistakes are what makes us human. Even further, our mistakes are what makes us better. By failing and by doing wrong, we learn and adapt in order to avoid making the same mistake twice. Further, it gives us the ability to help others by teaching them not to make our mistakes.

Below are some common mistakes students/nurses make and the reasons that can causes these errors.

All in all, remember to immediately report any mistakes that can cause immediate jeopardy to your instructor, preceptor, or charge nurse/unit leadership. It’s important not to hide our errors, but openly discuss them in order to learn from them. They can also help us see what personal changes or system changes need to be made to prevent this from happening again. And remember that mistakes happen, but you are still amazing. Don’t let the fear or failure stop you from doing what you love: Nursing!

Nurse fam, let’s talk about some of the mistakes we’ve made and what we learned from them!



  • Errors with Medication

  • Infection Control Issues

  • Charting or Documentation Errors

  • Calling for Help Without the Right Information on Hand

  • Patient Falls/Accidents


  • Being new and inexperienced

  • Distraction

  • Complacency

  • Poor Time Management

  • Pride

  • Unsafe Staffing Ratios/Unit Acuity

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