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Readers panel: Are nurses too afraid to report medication errors?

Health and social care secretary Jeremy Hunt says nurses and doctors are terrified that if they are open about medication mistakes they could be struck off their professional registers. Nursing Standard readers have their say

Health and social care secretary Jeremy Hunt says nurses and doctors are terrified that if they are open about medication mistakes they could be struck off their professional registers. Nursing Standard readers have their say


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Rachel Kent is a mental health nurse in London

Yes, because we work in a culture of accountability, which can be misinterpreted as a culture of blame. Instead of learning from mistakes you can be made to feel like a failure, which does little for your self-confidence and can lead to more errors. Accountability is acknowledging a mistake and learning from it in a supportive environment. Who is the better nurse – the one who admits to mistakes or the one who claims to have made none?

 

 

Drew Payne is a community staff nurse in north London

@drew_london

I made a drug error and it didn’t end my career. But in the nursing culture, a medication error is still seen as the ‘worst sin ever’ and rumours abound of nurses being reported to the Nursing and Midwifery Council because of them. If Jeremy Hunt really wants to reduce drug errors, he needs to start looking at the causes, such as short staffing. This was the cause of my drug error, and I would imagine it is a pretty common cause of many others.

 

Liz Charalambous is a staff nurse and PhD student in Nottingham 
@lizcharalambou

While all nurses are aware of the need to report drug errors and near-miss incidents, I suspect the fear of reporting depends on the individual nurse and the culture of the team. We need to take a broad approach to prevent mistakes from happening by supporting nurses to safely complete drug administration. This includes giving nurses enough time, zero tolerance on interruptions, and a no-blame culture with medication errors, where reports are seen as an opportunity to learn and improve practice.

 

 

Daniel Athey is a charge nurse on an acute medical unit in Sheffield

@danjathey

Nurses are historically subject to a culture of fear. Throughout training, seemingly everything is backed up with the attitude that if you do something incorrectly you'll be struck off the register or end up in a coroner’s court. Making a drug error is mortifying. I have firsthand experience, but it is a reality of life. Reporting errors is key to preventing them in future, and nurses need support when things go wrong. This culture of fear does not align with modern society.


Readers’ panel members give their views in a personal capacity only

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