A mistake

I have been debating whether or not to write this post. It's a hard post to write. I made a mistake and I'd prefer to keep it to myself. Recently however I got an email from someone who reads my blog and wants to start her own, so she asked me for some advice. I told her what I tell everyone, to decide before she ever writes anything what the purpose if her blog is, why she's writing it in the first place, and then to stay true to it. It's easy to get caught up in trying to collect comments, likes, and boosting your stats, but that's not what it's about. I told her I started my blog to document my experiences and that I want it to be true and genuine so I always write what I think. Sometimes people like it, sometimes it makes them uncomfortable, but in the end it's a real account of my real life and that's how I want it, regardless of the reaction I get to it. So this post is to my children, so they know I make real mistakes too and it's okay.

A few weeks ago at work I made a medication error. If you're a nurse your heart probably just stopped like mine did when I found out. If you're not a nurse this post may not mean as much to you, but a medication error is something you just DO NOT DO.

Short story: I gave a patient too low of a dose of pain medication.

Long story: I got to work that night expecting to work my usual hall but instead was assigned to a hall I had never worked before which had literally twice the number of patients I usually take care of. I was not familiar with their conditions or their routines so I was naturally feeling very very stressed. I got report of course but there's only so much you can soak in during those 20 minutes.  One of the patients fell during my shift (which apparently happens at least on a weekly basis for this particular person... No one bothered to tell me that either) so I was already panicked with that incident report (no injuries). The night was crazy and I never got a break which is saying something for a night shift. When I got home I collapsed into bed wanting to cry and so relieved that the whole ordeal was over. It wasn't. A few hours later I got a phone call-

What they said :" It looks like there was a medication error last night, we need you to come in and fill out an incident report."

What I heard: " You are fired and we're revoking your nursing license." (she didn't say this at all apparently)

It was literally the most terrifying gut wrenching voicemail I have ever gotten. I went back in as soon as humanly possible to sort things out trying desperately not to cry. It turns out one of the patients on the hall takes the same medication in the morning and at night, but she takes a low dose in the morning and a higher dose at night. Our medications are in a big cart (sort of like a filing cabinet on wheels) with all the patients pills bubble packed and filed neatly behind their name and room number. When patients take two different doses of the same medication we tag the bubble packs with a "dose alert" to make sure a medication error doesn't happen. This patients medications didn't have a dose alert for some reason. I mixed up the bubble packs and gave her the morning dose at night instead of the night dose so she ended up getting less pain medication than prescribed. It was absolutely my fault, I know that. I should have checked my five "rights" like they taught me in nursing school a billion times and like I have done a billion times before. But I didn't. I was so stressed,  patients were frustrated because I wasn't their "normal " nurse and they weren't getting their pills at the exact time they were used to getting them. I got in a hurry and was racing against the clock to distribute meds to 26 patients in the same amount of time I usually do 13 and I made a mistake. It's still my fault. No one was hurt, the doctor was notified, I profusely apologized to the patient and my nurse manager and filled out the incident report. She said things to me like "It's okay,"  and "You're not the first nurse to make a mistake, things get busy and you're in a hurry. Just be careful." But I didn't hear any of that, all I heard was "We're posting your picture on the wall of our facility with a big warning sign" and "Never come back here ever again."

It was a rough day. It's taken some time and distance from the experience for me to forgive myself. I didn't want to tell anyone about it, I couldn't even call my best friend  mostly because she's also a nurse. We graduated from BYU for heavens sake, BYU nurses don't do that kind of thing! But I did. It was an accident of course, but I still did. And if any other nurse is reading this and thinks you're the only one who has ever made a mistake, I'm here to tell you you're not. And guess what, you're still a good nurse.

President Uchtdorf's talk from priesthood session last October entitled "You Can Do It Now!" is about getting up and going on after you've made a mistake. He says:

"Every person, young and old, has had his own personal experience with falling. Falling is what we mortals do. But as long as we are willing to rise up again and continue on the path toward the spiritual goals God has given us, we can learn something from failure and become better and happier as a result.

My dear brethren {and sisters}, my dear friends, there will be times when you think you cannot continue on. Trust the Savior and His love. With faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and the power and hope of the restored gospel, you will be able to walk tall and continue on."

I believe him.

After a fully justified meltdown and lots of prayers, I realized I might actually have to show up for my next shift and then what? I felt this little warm feeling telling me "It's going to be okay". I would be more careful. I would be the nurse I know I can be, the nurse I am. Yes, I made a mistake but according to my manager I'm not the first one to do it. I guess my life doesn't have to end over it. I feel lucky that my mistake was relatively minor, and I would use the awful experience to remind myself that I'm taking care of God's children. It's okay if they get frustrated with me for being a little bit slower if it means saving their health. So I did go back to work and I did check my five rights and do everything else they taught me in nursing school and it did take longer and a patient or two was a little miffed about the half hour difference but then they went to sleep and they were all healthy and taken care of on my watch.

I made a mistake and it's okay. Not okay in the sense that I ever plan to do it again, but okay in the sense that I learned from it and grew from it. Okay in the sense the the Savior has paid for my mistakes and he still loves me and He forgives me. Okay in the sense that

"No one likes to fail. And we particularly don’t like it when others--especially those we love--see us fail. We all want to be respected and esteemed. We want to be champions. But we mortals do not become champions without effort and discipline or without making mistakes."

So mistakes are going to happen because it's part of mortality and we're here to learn. But luckily God knew that. And His plan accounts for that. And more important than the mistakes I make is my learning from them and my dependence on the Savior because He can fix all things.

For more inspiration, read the whole talk.

For more laughs about job mistakes, check out this post : On the Hunt


  1. Thank you so, so, so much Kamille. I made a mistake today in clinical and I've spent the whole evening crying and thinking that I should quit nursing school before they kick me out haha sooo this couldn't have come at a better time. And holy cow you give meds to 26 people?! That's seriously insane! I'm overwhelmed with one patient! If I ever need a nurse, I'm calling you! Love you Kam. Thanks so much for those quotes, I'm going to have to stick them on my mirror tomorrow.

  2. I love you! Let's get together and exchange job mistakes, I've got a few stories for you. Girls night out?


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