Career advice

What to do if you make a medication error

Nurses have a duty of candour when mistakes occur. Here’s how to handle the situation
Illustration showing a woman looking first shocked, then troubled, then happy and calm

You have a duty of candour if you make a professional error. Here's how to handle the situation

Picture the scene: it’s 1pm, you are tired and hungry. You have been on your feet since you walked onto the ward at 7.30am, yet you are barely halfway through your shift.

Once you complete the lunchtime medication round, you are hoping to grab a quick break. But then, just as you thought you were almost there, a sickening feeling washes over you.

You realise you have just given your patient the wrong medication. What you have been dreading since you entered nursing has happened – you have made a drug error.

Irrational thoughts are normal

When you first notice that you have


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