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Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Saved by Lady Luck: Wrong patient

"I actually went to the wrong patient,” the nurse testified. “All I did on that afternoon was to flush her drugs line. After flushing her line with saline [solution] I realized I was in the wrong room with the medication. Honestly, I didn't give her any of the drug." The patient was allergic to penicillin—which can be fatal to some patients. Luckily, the nurse stopped before administering the drug. She was reinstated to her job. As the head of the Nursing and Midwifery Council panel explained, "Whilst the allegations are serious, they relate to a single incident and we consider the risk of repetition is minimal." While this nurse will probably never forget or repeat the near-miss, others will.

Advice to patients and advocates: If you have a severe drug allergy, label a cheap plastic bracelet “ALLERGY!” and wear it in the hospital. Don’t worry if the color clashes with your hospital johnny [gown]….

Read more of the Cambridge Evening News article.