I have been a nurse for four years. As you can imagine, I learn something new every single day: about a new medication, a procedure I haven't heard about, or a diagnosis I haven't come across before. I hear a word I'm not familiar with and I scribble it down on the blank edge of the paper I carry in my pocket, the one that has my patient's information on it. Then, when I have time, I hop on the Internet and see what I can find. Google and I have gotten to know each other pretty well. There are a couple things I learned the hard way though.
For example, never give a confused patient their cell phone. Detoxification from alcohol is a nasty thing and in my defense, I thought if the patient could talk to his wife he'd feel better about the fact that we were "holding him hostage." It was only when he'd been talking for about a minute and started spelling his name that I realized he was NOT talking to his wife. I quickly took the phone away and had to explain to the nice 911-dispatch man that the guy he was talking to was actually a confused patient and that his doctor had written a hold order to keep him in the hospital for observation. Lesson learned.
If someone comes into the hospital after overdosing on hand sanitizer, take the hand sanitizer out of the room. While it seems obvious, I cared for the patient when there was also a patient safety attendant (PSA) sitting in the room, watching them to make sure they didn't do anything crazy. Like steal the knobs off the shower in the bathroom because they were "pretty." Or do something to hurt themselves. What I didn't account for was that days later, when the PSA was sent away and a different nurse took over, the hand sanitizer in the room might be a bit of a temptation. That patient went to the ICU for a while. It was totally preventable, if I'd have thought about it days earlier.
When someone says, "I don't feel so well" take it seriously. Well, it's a hospital, after all. This one I learned on my own and through others. It's interesting how people can tell something's not right, sometimes several minutes before they pass out, their heart rhythm changes, or they have a heart attack. False alarms happen on occasion, but I've learned to listen to my patients and take them seriously.
I'm all about learning from other people's mistakes. I would absolutely prefer someone learning from mine than repeating silly, preventable errors. But it's all part of the job, I suppose.