It could be you next time.

By February 29, 2016Advocacy, Nursing

Let’s say you are an ER Nurse.


You are an ER Nurse.  You have 5 patients.  Two are chest pain that you are ruling out. One is a Gyn.  One was a kidney stone about to be discharged.  The fifth just came in by EMS with someone riding the stretcher doing compressions.

What is your priority?

Ok, we all know that was a dumb question.  Get your butt in there and take care of the mostly dead person!

So while you are coding the new admission, a friend discharged your kidney stone patient. The patient got dressed before the nurse came in, and he thought you had taken the IV out. The patient went home with an intact 22 gauge IV catheter in their left hand.


This is not a to-go order


Good news!  You got your coding patient back! Heart started, and cath lab for PCI transfer, baby! Win win!

You ruled out your chest pain patients, your gyn was treated, you got 5 more patients.

And nobody took the IV out of that kidney stone!

When the patient comes back three hours later to have his IV taken out, you are embarrassed! Your coworker who actually discharged the patient is humiliated.  Your charge nurse says, “Sorry about that.” and removes it, then mentions it to you.

You write up an incident report, and someone may mention it to you someday, but it is unlikely.  Because these things happen. It is not ideal.  It is not policy.  It is a mistake.  And if you have never made one, look out.  You are probably next.


No, they are not sharks. You get the point, though.

Now try posting that story on Facebook.

Nurses are super mean to each other sometimes. We are a great team at work, mostly.  Then we hear about someone on a different unit or in a different hospital who makes a mistake and it is like sharks scenting blood in the water. We gather around it and enjoy the unfortunate blood bath.

It tastes good.

Like nurse bits. Crunchy nurse bits with humiliation hollandaise. Garnished with shame.

I wonder what is for dessert.

I have a friend who passes meds to over 150 people per day. Some of these patients have twenty medications.  He estimates that they have less than one medication error a month among the entire staff.  These nurses do NOTHING but pass medications.  They are never distracted.  There is no barcode scanning. And if they make a mistake, they own it.  No one is ever humiliated for it.  pills-main

That is not how it works in most facilities.  You are interrupted 30 times a med pass for your seven patients. Three of them are named John Smith, Jason Smith, and James Smith. Somebody may have gotten the wrong medication if your facility doesn’t use barcode scanning.

And the worst part about it is, you have no idea you did it.

Instead of judgemental, let us try to be supportive of our fellow nurses.  Whether they work across the hall, across the country, or across the globe, they are part of our family. We all face the same challenges.  

We are all trying to do the best we can for our patients.  Our patients might be the frail elderly, a 23 week preemie, an addict, a prisoner, developmentally disabled, acutely psychotic, having a STEMI, a diabetic 5th grader in an elementary school, a laboring mother, HIV positive, an organ transplant recipient, acutely dying, or fighting for their lives.  And we are simply trying to do the best we can for them.

Can we also do our best for each other? Please?

Safe Staffing.  You hear me say it all the time.  Sadly, you are probably bored by it, and it impacts you daily. 

You will never get it unless you unite.  You will never get anything unless you unite.

Start by being decent to each other, Nurse. Turn your compassion to your coworkers.















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Author Janie Garner

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Join the discussion 6 Comments

  • Lisa says:

    One day, when I have the time, I want to research the topic of nurses being mean to each other. I want to know; how often it happens, why and in which areas of nursing. I just want to know how prevalent it is. That said, I’ve been a proud member of this group from the beginning and am amazed and saddened at the number of times we have had to be reminded to be kind to each other. SMDH

  • This is in my opinion one of you’re best posts EVER!!! I am a Lpn that works in Ltc for 32 years. I can not even fathom how Rn’s in the Er do it!!! Don’t put nurses down for a simple mistake like that! I saw that post and I am sorry but she should be ashamed for that bashing on the internet. You are soo right no one is perfect. This makes me so mad! Unify Already! I learned my lesson a long time ago when I was a young nurse and would be so critical. It will come back on you and humble you! Every one of us does not know everything and we have so much pressure on us because of low staffing! Be kind !!! That is why most of us became nurses because we enjoy being kind! You have such a way with words, and are so very intelligent Janie and I have so much respect for you! Keep up the good work and setting such a great example for us!

  • Linda Kirk says:

    You knocked it out of the ballpark again, Janie. Thank you.

  • jodie davis says:

    Amen Janie. Why is it that the ideas of fostering growth of one another and remembering that we all are on the same team has become such a foreign concept to some? It is time that we embrace each other and stand together to promote what is best for our patients. ..

  • jodie davis says:

    Amen Janie. Why is it that the ideas of fostering growth of one another and remembering that we all are on the same team have become such foreign concepts to some? It is time that we embrace each other and stand together to promote what is best for our patients. ..

  • Sherry McGlothin says:

    This is your best post. I don’t comment usually but this one. WOW. Well said. This speaks so loudly. Thank you.

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