Sunday, October 07, 2007


Tonight I made a grievous medication error.

I work at a group home for “severe & persistent mental illness” clients. There are more than a dozen clients, residents, whatever you want to call them. The term changes regularly what with varying forms of political correctness; at one point we called them “consumers,” as in “consumers of mental health services” but I never liked that term. It makes them sound all take and no give.

At any rate, I used to run such a house. I found it to be super stressful and was happy to give it up. Ironically, the part I liked the best about working in these types of facilities was giving medications and dealing with doctors’ offices, medical appointments, etc. Now I’m back here working a regular weekend swing shift gig, back in the trenches. I am generally well-thought-of in this agency, after a long association with it, and even got this job without having to come in for an interview.

Yeah, maybe not so much after tonight.

This client receives three types of insulin, and I gave the first of them correctly. Then I gave the second one incorrectly. Then I caught the mistake and called it in without giving the third dose.

The client will be fine. I was told, as I figured I would be, to hold the third type of insulin altogether, give him a slightly larger dinner, extra juice, and monitor his blood sugars about hourly. Fortunately his blood sugar was a bit high to begin with.

I feel like such a jerk. This poor guy. I’m so glad I caught it right away, at least. It could have been a disaster.

I hate making mistakes in general, and I especially hate that my mistake could have really hurt – possibly even killed – this client.

You can bet it will never happen again.


Elizabeth said...

What a stressful situation to be in. Sounds like you handled it perfectly after you found out and everything turned out OK. I know you've done that type of job for a long time and if this is your first medication mistake I'd say you're doing pretty good.
Don't be too hard on yourself.
:o) Elizabeth in Juneau

VenerableGamer said...

You did the right thing after you discovered the mistake. That counts for a lot. Instead of trying to hide it, you put the interest of your client first and got him the needed attention. The fact that you are feeling bad about the error shows that you have compassion and a sense of professionalism. I bet that you will be extra attentive to detail in the future. It really sucks that it happened, but at least he is going to be ok and you have learned something new. You are not one of the few bad apples in the medical field who is indifferent to their patients. That makes all the difference. Errors in health care are common. I would feel more confident receiving care from a person (such as you) who is willing to follow up and do what is needed if something goes awry. I think you will make a great health care provider when you graduate.

Impetua said...

Aw. You guys are the best. I still feel bad but at least I know the whole world doesn't hate me for making an error.

I went ahead and told my co-workers who were coming on shift right away, so they could keep an eye on him and also because I didn't want to "hide" what had happened. They needed to know and would have found out anyway.

Invariably when you tell others about mistakes you made, they tell you about the mistakes that they made too.

Unless they are jerks.