We are all human and we are all fallible, so occasionally mistakes can and do happen within care settings.
When they do, it is essential that care workers are honest about their mistakes and report them to the appropriate person (usually their manager) immediately.
By swiftly reporting errors, an organisation can:
- Rectify, undo or reduce any damage that has been caused
- Identify the reasons that the error was made so that the likelihood of it happening again in the future can be reduced
For example, if an employee does a drug stock check and discovers that there is one tablet less than there should be, they should (after double-checking and spending a small amount of time searching for the missing tablet) report this to their manager.
By reporting their concern, the manager is able to investigate the concern in a timely fashion. They may double-check the employees sums and search for the medication themselves. It could be that the manager discovers the missing tablet still in the blister pack in the bin – the previous staff member to administer medication thought that they had used the last tablet in the blister pack and threw it away.
Now that the issue of the missing tablet has been rectified, the manager can put measures in place to ensure the same mistake does not happen again. This may be achieved by doing more frequent drug stock checks or simply informing staff (via a memo, notice board, in a team meeting etc.) about what has happened and to ensure that all have tablets have been used before throwing packaging away. Another solution may be to store waste medication in a drawer so that the manager can confirm it is empty before disposing of it.
If errors are not reported, there is the potential for further damage to be caused so mistakes should never be ignored or covered up. Owning up to mistakes is an important part of a care worker’s job role.