Top 7 Deadliest Nursing Errors (And How to Avoid Them)

how to avoid nursing errors

Nurses play the biggest role in patient care. Their overwhelming workload may sometimes lead to errors that are, in some cases, irreversible or even fatal.

On the other hand, most of these errors are preventable, especially if nurses will take the necessary precautions. The following are the top 7 deadliest Nursing errors and how to prevent them:


1. Medication Errors.

This is the most common mistake that nurses commit. In fact, according to the National Medication Errors Reporting Program, medication errors kill one person every day in the United States. Imagine how many lives will be saved if we can eradicate this error completely.

In giving medications, nurses must remember the five ‘rights’ of medication administration and keep them in mind at all times: the right medication, the right patient, the right dose, the right time and the right route.

One primary cause of medication errors is distraction. Make sure that you have minimal distractions when administering medications and you’re good to go. Also, do not hesitate to ask questions about the drug if you are in doubt and remember to double check any medication that is to be given before administering it.


2. Patient Falls.

It has been estimated that one out of three adults who are 65 years and older falls every year. Falls do not only contribute to so many physiological effects, but they also traumatize the patients, and cause them to be anxious and apprehensive.

As nurses, we can protect our patients from falls by encouraging them to ask for help when getting out of bed, knowing the patients’ activities by checking on them often, and by utilizing protective measures such as nonslip socks or bed alarms.


3. Infection.

Hand hygiene is one of the most vital practices that nurses should never take for granted, as it is also immensely important for preventing infections.

Always disinfect or sterilize equipment after use. Remember to practice aseptic technique and to properly clean equipment in a timely manner, to prevent the possible spread of infection as early as possible.


4. Documentation Errors.

Keep in mind that in the world we’re in, if it wasn’t written, it never happened.

Sometimes, this task is pretty tough because nurses have a whole lot of other things to do aside from writing down notes and documenting all the events that have happened during the shift.

But remember: If a patient contracts an injury, it could reveal neglect based on lack of documentation.

To prevent this common mistake, make sure that you monitor your patients regularly and document every intervention you have performed, including the correct time. Also, report unusual events to the supervisor or nurse manager and see to it that you are documenting on the correct patient.


5. Body Mechanics.

This is common especially to new nurses who are so eager to try out everything on their first week. Every nurse should know the correct and proper ways to transfer, carry or move patients from one place to another. One big mistake will not only injure you, but will also put the patient’s life at risk.

Keep in mind that you have to lift with your legs and never with your back. You should also always ask somebody to help you out. Do everything slowly but surely. Though it takes a bit longer to finish, at least you will not end up with an injured back.


6. Equipment Injuries.

A patient care environment should be constantly kept safe, and as nurses, it is our responsibility to be well-informed with whatever changes any equipment we use has.

Be competent enough to utilize needed equipment. To prevent injuries, ensure that all equipment have been examined properly and use them only as suggested.


7. Failure to Prioritize.

Through experience, we have learned, practiced and developed how to prioritize tasks. Nurses should never go out there alone, as nursing should always be done in collaboration.

Ask if you are not sure, delegate tasks if you need help and have a support system. Doing everything alone may lead to certain consequences that sometimes are fatal. Remember, no nurse is an island.


Nurses are human beings just like everyone else. They can make mistakes every now and then, and always learn new things along the way.

But errors like these are very preventable as long as we are careful and we know what we are doing. Learn from this list, and help save lives every day!


About the Author: Mary Elizabeth Velarmino Francisco earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degree from the Ateneo de Zamboanga University, Philippines. She is always happy to share her passion for writing and blogging. With coffee running through her veins, she enthusiastically battles each day, one article at a time.