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Nursing Interview

48 Nursing Questions and Answers by Heather Douglass
| Heather has over 20 years experience recruiting and hiring candidates,
specifically in the health care industry.

Question 1 of 48

Tell me about a time when you committed a medical error in your nursing career. How did you handle it?

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Nursing Interview Questions

  1. 1.

    Tell me about a time when you committed a medical error in your nursing career. How did you handle it?

      No matter the career or profession, mistakes happen in the workplace. In the medical field and the practice of nursing, mistakes are often medical errors which affect the patient. The repercussions from medical errors can range anywhere from minor to very severe and life-threatening. When a medical error is committed by a health professional, it is important that they immediately report the error and do not attempt to cover it up. To successfully answer this question, the candidate should explain a situation in their career when they committed a medical error and how they took action to resolve and report the situation. A stronger answer to the question would include details of what the candidate learned from the error, and how learning from the situation will prevent them from making the mistake again.

      Heather's Answer

      "Since I am a new nurse, I am very watchful in my practice, but I did make a very serious medical error when I first started working on my own on the peds floor at the hospital. In pediatrics, weight is usually documented in kilograms, since recommended medication doses are documented in kilograms. Upon intake, I entered the patient's weight in the system, and when it automatically converted to kilograms, I thought it was a mistake, so I adjusted it up so it would reflect the patient's weight in pounds. This was a big mistake on my part because it made it so the patient would be getting much more medication than they were supposed to. At first, I didn't realize what I had done, but later while I was entering history and physical on another patient, I realized my mistake, and as soon as I was finished with this patient, I immediately went and informed my supervisor of my mistake. Luckily, the patient had not received medication yet, but an error was still documented and I went through a training program to ensure I understood how to properly document weight."

      Kelly's Answer

      "A few years ago, while I was working as an outpatient pediatric nurse, there was an order in the system for me to administer a series of vaccines to a 12-month old patient. I went into the vaccine room, drew up the shots, then took them into the patient room and administered them to the patient. However, when I went to document the immunizations in the patient record, I realized one of the vaccines I gave was meant for adolescents. I felt terrible, but instead of attempting to hide my mistake, I immediately reported the incident to my supervisor, and she initiated a medication error report. Ever since I made this mistake, I always double check to make sure I am administering the correct medication to the patient."

      Ryan's Answer

      "The most serious medical error that has happened under my watch took place during my first few months as a floor nurse in a geriatric unit at the hospital. At the time, I was working nights, and on this particular night, I was exhausted and I admit that I was not being very friendly to my patients. Before I left one patient's room, I had forgotten to ensure her water cup was within reach of her bed. Later, when the patient woke up and was thirsty, instead of calling for me to assist her, she attempted to get up on her own to retrieve it, and she fell. Unfortunately, the patient sustained an injury upon falling, and since I did not hear her fall or hear her cry for help, she laid on the floor and suffered for an undetermined amount of time. This was a terrible experience for the patient and I felt terrible. After getting assistance for the patient, who had to undergo surgery for the injury she sustained, I was very honest with the incident nurse when she was asking me questions for the incident report, and I took full responsibility for what happened."

      Ryan's Answer

      "I have been a nurse for a long time, and I have made a number of medical errors. I would say the most serious medical error I have ever committed took place a couple of years ago when I was ordering medication for a patient undergoing a procedure. I knew what medication I was looking for, but because I was in a rush, I only looked for the first three letters of the medication. Unfortunately, the medication that I ordered and that was ultimately dispensed and administered to the patient was not the correct drug; and to make the situation worse, the patient had an unknown allergy to the medication and had a bad reaction. The patient ended up being okay, but they did not deserve to go through that trauma because of my negligence. I did not try to deny the fact that I took a shortcut while ordering the medication, and was honest about what happened. Now, I am extremely diligent about ensuring I am entering the correct medication into the system anytime I am doing so."

      Anonymous Answer

      "As a new nurse during clinicals, I have always been careful about medication administration. I conduct three checks and all my rights. During my first semester in school, I was preparing to administer an injection, and I accidentally deployed the safety mechanism on the needle. My instructor obtained another needle tip and I carefully changed it. I knew this mistake was due to nerves. I went back to the skill lab in school and practiced until giving injections became muscle memory."

      Rachelle's Answer

      Excellent! It's great that you are willing to accept an error while leveraging the instance as an opportunity to improve your skills. This approach shows a strong level of professionalism and diligence.

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