Top Common Mistakes Nurses Make and How To Avoid Them

Top Common Mistakes Nurses Make and How To Avoid Them

Nurses experience a lot of pressure knowing that their mistakes can have terrible consequences. However, a nurses day is never done and mistakes happen when one person has too many responsibilities. However, the top common mistakes that nurses make are actually avoidable and fixable.

Top common mistakes nurses make:

Limited Self-Care

Self-care consists of activities that a person does to take care of their physical, mental, and emotional health. This might be as simple as doing laundry, going to therapy, taking a walk, or eating a nutritious meal. Nurses are at a high risk of burnout and stress which reinforces how important it is for nurses to engage in a self-care practice.

How can this be improved?
To improve your self-care practices you first have to think about what is currently working and not working in your life. It might be helpful to engage in reflective writing activities or speak with a therapist or life coach. Once you identify what isn’t working, you can come up with a plan to figure out how to improve in this area.

Inadequate Documentation

We know that a lot of healthcare professionals dislike documentation which is why inadequate documentation is one of the common mistakes nurses make. It is tedious, time consuming, and there is an intense amount of pressure to document correctly. However, we limited breaks, high case loads, and general stress, documenting appropriately can be a struggle. Here are some common documentation errors:

  • Not thoroughly reviewing medical reports
  • Forgetting to document patient care activities
  • Forgetting to include medications that were administered
  • Not enough details
  • Inconsistency with documenting changes in the patient

How can this be improved?
Do these errors sound familiar? If so, why do you think you have difficulty with documenting appropriately? If it is due to a lack of time, it may be helpful to express this to your superiors and see what can be done. Not many facilities have wiggle room to provide extra documentation time, but it is best to be transparent about your difficulty up front. It also might be helpful to create a checklist that can help you identify if you missed anything before the end of your shift.

Difficulty Managing Patients

Managing different personalities on top of other responsibilities is extremely challenging. Patients who are receiving treatment might also be experiencing an extreme range of emotions due to the stress of being ill and/or have medication side effects that make social interactions uncomfortable. This can result in nurses having difficulty managing patients which might look like being inpatient, short, passive, and/or lack empathy.

How can this be improved?
Patient care is at the root of nursing and if this area is lacking it must be addressed immediately. It is helpful to take a step back and put yourself in your patient’s shoes. There is a lot of uncertainty when being sick which can turn even the most polite person into a combative one. It can also be helpful to check in and take care of yourself more. If you’re struggling to manage different types of patients, it might be because you’re giving more than you can. Practicing self-care is a tool that can improve your career in multiple ways.

Not Speaking Up

No healthcare facility is perfect. However, there are some workplaces that are toxic due to work culture, expectations, etc. Although it is important to make a good impression at work, many nurses will accept inappropriate work circumstances or a hostile work culture in order to not cause attention to themselves. This can lead to a detrimental number of consequences, like poor mental health, legal ramifications, and inconsistent work performance.

How can this be fixed?
In order to fix this problem you will have to be able to articulate. What is really going on at work and how can you prove it? Are there unethical situations happening? Is workplace bullying occurring? Or perhaps you and your co-workers aren’t clicking? Once you identify the root cause, you can then determine what is the best way to speak up or take action. You might need to talk to your supervisor or Human Resources. It will be helpful to have documentation on the instances, including the day/time and detailed description of what occurred.


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About the author

Kristie Cabrera

Kristie is an occupational therapist, mental health advocate, and amateur urban farmer. Her experience with taking care of others in the healthcare setting and taking care of the land are both important pieces that make up who she is. As a life-long learner and creative, she hopes to create content that is centered around wellness and healing.

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