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In nursing it is easy to unfortunately slip up in smaller matters, and managers tend to blow things out of proportion. How many mistakes is reasonable before firing someone?

Nursing is such a high pressure job, that's very dynamic. It's mentally and physically taxing as well as sometimes being emotionally taxing due to the internal politics (and worse still when there is bullying). To top it off, in some hospitals/facilities there are no nurse to patient/resident ratios.

I was wondering how many mistakes can I make before I am out the door? Nurse Managers tend to blow things out of proportion and take the word of patients over the nurses.

For instance one mistake I made was re-ordering eye drops because I couldn't find them, but I suspect a nasty lower ranking nurse who was working under me hid them to get me in trouble then reported me to management because I hadn't put them in and because I couldn't find them I wrote none were available on the chart. She use to leave the place looking like a bomb site and I had spoken previously to management about this, but did not mention her name. In hindsight I should have. I was called in by the Clinical Nurse who said that the person could go blind, but it had only been about 4 days and I imagine it would take much longer before someone went blind because they didn't get these drops. I did reorder them again because I couldn't find them a 2nd time also.

How long do they have to give you to prove that you are capable of doing the job properly after they have told you what they want? In the past I have been fired, without being given a chance to prove myself. What can I do to prevent that in this job?

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  • This question feels like more of a rant. The only actual question here is unanswerable without knowing you location. – Studoku Feb 1 at 12:23
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    You missed to give someone their medicine for four days?!? – nvoigt Feb 1 at 17:45
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This Q & A site tends to be dominated by people who work in technology such as software developers. Most software developers do not work on systems where people's life are in danger, some do but most don't.

Not all nursing is high pressure. What discipline are you in? There is a big difference in working in labor and delivery, and being a nurse that does pre life insurance physicals. Perhaps you are not cut out for your particular discipline. I say that as a person who does not make good technical decisions under pressure and would be very ill suited for most health care occupations.

Nurse Managers tend to blow things out of proportion and take the word of patients over the nurses.

This is a troubling statement. It is possible you might have some dysfunctional nurse managers, but typically they are there to mentor you and you are there to learn from them. By taking the attitude of them "blowing things out of proportion" you are limiting your ability to learn from them. It is a troubling attitude.

How many mistakes is reasonable before firing someone?

That is the wrong question. You should be asking yourself and your managers/preceptors things like:

What you can do today to become more proficient?

What skills do I need to study my own time?

How do I work better with other disciplines that will enable me to get labs and medicines that I need in timely manner?

How can I better care for my patients?

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  • I agree with your questions re. asking a manager them but it has to be a 2 way street and they have to build up trust in me. I have only ever had one very good Director of Nursing mentoring me and I appreciated her a lot. More than she can imagine. As well as my cousin who was an ADON. I don't limit my ability to learn at all, I am proactive at finding learning opportunties, but I haven't had good experiences. Worked on medical wards and aged care. The later has done a lot of aggressive restructuring removing nurses they have to pay more to for their experience. – Maggie Feb 5 at 4:06
  • I think the blaming is just to get rid of more experienced staff so they don't have to pay as much in aged care. Newbies are cheaper. Thank you for enlightening me that mainly IT people are on this site. – Maggie Feb 5 at 5:01
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If you're worried about being fired for making mistakes then be careful not to make mistakes. There is no general number of mistakes before termination. It could be one, it could be none, it all depends on the locale and specific scenario.

Nurse Managers tend to blow things out of proportion and take the word of patients over the nurses.

This isn't normal, managers usually back up their staff unless they have an issue with a staff member such as mistrust or dislike. If you feel this is an issue then be extra careful.

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  • It's normal where I am unless you are part of a clique and I never am. I have learned a lot of lessons along the way on how to avoid other people's jealousy which causes problems, because then they make up stories and managers very often don't ask for evidence. – Maggie Feb 5 at 4:01
  • Big difference between not being part of a clique and people actively disliking you enough to make up stories... I would think that indicative of a deeper issue. – Kilisi Feb 5 at 4:40
  • Yes agree with the above. But our culture is meant to be a no blame culture but then you have to put in incident reports regardless of if they are a minor or major problem. A number of issues don't have negative impacts because they are caught in time, and the protocols are followed. I'm honest and report myself too, because as someone said on Quora quite often it's a process issue and as said above nurses are pushed to the hilt in a dynamic environment. Have you worked with women and understood how petty they can be. Often they feel with their emotions rather than think with their head. – Maggie Feb 5 at 4:50
  • This is why I think I have gotten flack because I do put in incident reports, because I know they are done for the right reasons to learn from and to stop it hopefully from happening again, but managers use them against staff at times. – Maggie Feb 5 at 4:55
  • Men can be just as petty, it hinges a lot on whether they take something personally or not. If a tool is causing you issues, then it's not a beneficial tool, why would you continue to use it? – Kilisi Feb 5 at 5:23
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How long do they have to give you to prove that you are capable of doing the job properly after they have told you what they want? In the past I have been fired, without being given a chance to prove myself. What can I do to prevent that in this job?

So the problem is people are ordering the wrong items, but you end up taking the blame?

I recall you from before and believe you're the person who was fired from the nursing homes from numerous complaints?

I was called in by the Clinical Nurse who said that the person could go blind, but it had only been about 4 days and I imagine it would take much longer before someone went blind because they didn't get these drops. I did reorder them again because I couldn't find them a 2nd time also.

Aren't prescription drugs something that doctors can only order? This sounds very unusual to me and yes easily mistaken.

First off, if you're having to order prescription drugs without a doctor's authorization, then I would first off, not do that and write to whatever medical board in your local area that you're ordering medication, with high error rates, that are not doctor authorized and potentially life altering (said person could go blind).

Second, in a situation where you're asked to order, I would first off get clarification. I'm not sure of what goes into that, but I would get the brand, type, dosage, and whatever else right down to every detail on the order form. Each question on the order form I would go ask about, from the name, down to the brand, down to the dosage, down to the everything. I would then pass it to the right person.

Third, I would not pass off medication order to anyone else. If someone asks you to do it, you do it. Don't trust someone else to do it. Even in this situation where the lesser nurse ordered the wrong item, it would be your fault because you ordered that person to order in your place. I would not do that.

Fourth, don't argue with your boss. Say you made a mistake and it won't happen again. I'm honestly surprised you were not let go of. It's a mistake that could cost them millions and lose their insurance carrier.

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  • No I didn't prescribe the drops, and I only made one complaint. Funny how you've made a lot of assumptions. I ordered them from the pharmacist again, that's what I meant. The right medications were ordered but I couldn't find them so had to reorder them from the pharmacist and note the Doctor wrote up the initial "order" and always wrote up the orders. I know I cannot do it, I did explain to the manager what happened however she thought I should still take the blunt of the blame, because I told her the other nurse who was under me, made the place messy and I couldn't find them. – Maggie Feb 5 at 4:41

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