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Reality Unscripted
The Doctor Made a Mistake

So he went to medical school, and you didn't. Plus, you are fresh out of nursing school. So who are you to question a doc?

Here's a common dilemma that many new nurses face: "I was put in a compromising situation last week. A young doctor gave me an order that I didn’t question—I just ran with it. After thinking more about his order, I realized it was wrong and could jeopardize the patient’s safety. Now I’m paranoid this could happen again and that I might not catch the error. How can I avoid this in the future?"

My guess is that it will happen again. And again. I work with a doctor who has been practicing for 20 years, and he still makes an occasional mistake. There’s not a doctor or nurse who doesn’t make a mistake now and then. The key, as the nurse, is to always hear an order through your best nursing judgment.

What would the rest of you recommend to Brittany?

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2 Responses to “The Doctor Made a Mistake”

  1. Leah Smith Says:

    I agree. It probably will happen again. Something that has helped me in similar situations is to consult with my fellow nurses. There are usually nurses who have been around long enough to experience the same problem, and have learned to cope with that sickening knot in their gut. They can offer great advice on things to be cautious about, orders to question, how to confront the physician, and then how to document appropriately. Additionally, if the problem persists, don’t be afraid to activate the chain of command. Sure, there may be those who ridicule you for your boldness, but the nurses who care about the patient’s safety will support you through it all.

  2. Adrienne Zurub Says:

    I agree with Leah, consult with a more experienced nurse. Actually, ‘consultation’ is what we as nurses are about. We need to take that route more often (calling it consultation) to take the stigma away from obtaining a seasoned opinion or thinking we have to do it all ourselves!

    Adrienne Zurub, RN, MA, CNOR
    Notes From the Mothership ~ The Naked Invisibles
    due out November 2007

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