Common Nursing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Nursing is a gratifying profession. However, it is stressful trying to stay on top of everything while administering a high level of care. Nurses, understandably, have anxiety about making mistakes because they are costly. It is wise to know common nursing errors and how to prevent them.

Patient Falls

The Center for Disease Control estimates that one out of three adults 65 and older falls annually. Several conditions can cause these falls, including vertigo, the flu, Meniere disease, multiple sclerosis, and anesthetic medications. There are preventative measures nurses can take to keep patients safe:

  • Encourage patients to ask for assistance when they get out of bed. Ensure there are no obstacles in the restroom or around the bed.
  • Perform hourly rounding. Studies show that rounding can decrease falls in the hospital.
  • Be aware of any medications your patient is taking. Some drugs cause drowsiness, dizziness, and impaired judgment.
  • Use protective measures such as nonslip socks and bed alarms to decrease the risk of falls.


When it comes to infections in the hospital, basic hand hygiene can go a long way in preventing infections. Patients are more involved in the care now and often monitor their providers for hand washing. Use chlorhexidine to prep skin, practice sterile techniques, and follow central line use and removal guidelines to prevent infections. Clean urinary catheters and remove them promptly. Avoid long-term use of catheters unless medically necessary to prevent catheter-related infections.

Documentation Errors

It is essential to document events and changes in patient condition promptly. Documentation is a common area of trouble because nursing staff rarely have time to stop and write immediately. Worse still, if a patient sustains an injury, a lack of documentation can look like neglect. To hold down documentation errors, consider the following:

  • Monitor patients regularly and document interventions.
  • Report adverse events immediately.
  • Document as the patient’s condition warrants.
  • Address all signs and symptoms of distress.
  • Ensure all documentation is on the correct patient.

Medication Errors

Use a barcoding medication scanning system to verify the correct medication, patient, route, dose, time, and documentation to prevent medication errors. Always double-check high-alert medications with another nurse. Make sure you understand and know the drugs you are administering and any possible adverse reactions. Multiple resources are available if you have questions about a medicine, from the pharmacy to drug guides.

Equipment Injury

Equipment in a hospital change frequently, and injuries related to equipment do happen. As a nurse, you must be competent in using your equipment. Key actions include:

  • Request training on equipment unfamiliar to you.
  • Examine all equipment and remove it if damaged.
  • Report any incidents or defects to the risk management department.
  • Thoroughly document any injuries related to the equipment.
  • Use equipment only as recommended.

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